Obama responded: “I . . . appreciate your concern about the toxic political environment right now. I do have to challenge you, though, on the notion that any citizen that disagrees with me has been ‘targeted and ridiculed’ or that I have ‘made fun’ of tea baggers . . . [I] defend strongly the right of everyone to speak their mind — including those who call me ‘socialist’ or worse.
“I believe that health care reform will be the right thing for the country . . . It certainly wasn’t the smart ‘political’ thing! And I hope that in the months to come, you will keep an open mind and evaluate it based not on the political attacks but on what it does or doesn’t do to improve people’s lives. Sincerely, Barack Obama.”