An unscripted moment Monday summed up President Barack Obama's effort to downplay problems plaguing the government website used to sign up for required health insurance under his signature health care reforms.
As Obama argued that the law was good and the website's problems would be fixed, one of the people chosen to stand behind him in the White House Rose Garden started to teeter.
Others supported the woman, Karmel Allison of San Diego, who appeared on the verge of passing out, and Obama quickly turned to help.
"I got you. You're OK," he said, reaching out to Allison. He then joked, "This happens when I talk too long."
In the same assured and upbeat manner, Obama also attempted to discuss the myriad problems of HealthCare.gov, the website for the 15 percent of Americans lacking health coverage to sign up for insurance.
Saying there was no "sugarcoating" the login difficulties, long waits, repeated failures and other problems, the president added that tech industry experts were being brought in to help workers going 24/7 to resolve the website woes.
"Nobody's madder than me about the website not working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed," Obama said without specifying exactly what went wrong or who was to blame.
At the same time, he argued that the health insurance available through the 2010 Affordable Care Act provided Americans previously unable to get coverage with the security of knowing that an accident or illness wouldn't bankrupt them.
Though some people are having trouble applying, those who have had the chance to enroll through HealthCare.gov are "thrilled with the result," and people can apply in ways other than the website, including though a call center and in person, Obama said.
He noted that new marketplaces under the law opened Oct. 1, the same day House Republicans forced a government shutdown by trying to link continued funding to their demands to dismantle or defund the health care reforms.
"It's time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking middle class families are rooting for its success," Obama said of the health care law.
The political showdown over government spending and raising the federal borrowing limit, which ended last week, distracted public attention from the problems of the new health care system.
Obama administration officials have highlighted the fact that nearly 500,000 people have filled out applications for the ACA, though the number who purchased coverage remains unknown.
Initial difficulties have started to ease for logging on to the website for the new exchanges, some of which are run by states and others by the federal government. Now, problems are occurring further along the process, with insurance industry sources having said they are getting some applications with missing information.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday showed that 56 percent of respondents consider the website difficulties a harbinger of broader problems with the Affordable Care Act, a constant target of conservative critics who consider it the epitome of big government overreach.
Republicans kept up their attacks on the health care reforms Monday, with the office of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tweeting that when a visit to the ACA website made a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles seem pleasant, "it's time for the President to consider delaying this rushed effort."
"God only knows how much money they've spent, and it's a failure," McConnell said Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation." "You know, the government simply isn't going to be able to get this job done correctly."
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney reiterated Obama's point that the problems have occurred in the first three weeks of a six-month open enrollment period, and more time was needed to get the system running properly.
Although March 31 is the deadline for people to get health insurance or face a fine, officials warn that failure to sign up by Feb. 15 could be a problem because of the time needed for the coverage to take effect.
Carney hinted that lingering problems in signing people up could result in relief, noting that the law makes clear that "if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, you will not have to pay a penalty for not having affordable health insurance."
He also repeated the president's assertion that high demand in the first weeks of the new exchanges contributed to the website problems, noting that the larger-than-expected response exposed existing "glitches and kinks."
"We need to step up our game to ensure that demand is met," Carney said in reference to the Department of Health and Human Services contracting with outside experts to help solve the problems.
The Republican National Committee challenged the government "tech surge," saying in a statement that it was "code for 'spending surge,' and will waste hundreds of millions of unbudgeted taxpayer dollars."
Republicans have increasingly called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to lose her job because of the website problems.
Sebelius attended Monday's Rose Garden remarks, but her office said she will miss a Thursday congressional hearing on the health care website problems because of a previously scheduled event in Arizona.