It was a real Hail To the Chief moment for President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden at the White House today. Most news outlets reported that the Commander-in-Chief was there to add his own voice to the throng of dissatisfied Americans who were up in arms over not being able to get signed up for the public insurance exchanges under the newly implemented Affordable Care Act. The big problem, it seems, is the same thing almost every startup faces – web glitches. As it turns out, there was no way to do a beta rollout on the exchange program, since the program’s very existence was still being fought over as it rolled out. And the president took ownership of the glitchy implementation, promising that things would get better.
But it was a totally unscripted moment in the speech that the stole the spotlight. According to the New York Post, a woman standing behind the president – one Karmel Allison – started to faint. The president heard a slight commotion behind him, turned around, and caught Allison around the waist.
“There you go. You’re ok,” the president assured the woman, whose knees were buckling. “I got you.”
The assembled press and observers laughed nervously, not sure what was going on.
“This happens when I talk too long,” he joked to the crowd.
Event staff showed up and quietly whisked the woman away to get medical attention. The White House later released a statement that Allison was fine. She revealed that she is not only a Type I diabetic, but also pregnant. Her story was that she had remained on the same insurance plan for years, even as it got more and more expensive for her, afraid to change plans for fear of being denied coverage due to her preexisting condition. Now, thanks to rules within the Affordable Care Act, she can now shop for better rates without that concern.
Allison later tweeted: “I’m ok world- just got a little lightheaded. Thanks, @BarackObama for catching me!”