Nelson flips on health care public option, tells Nebraska Dems he’s ‘open’ to one.

nelsonEarlier this month, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) declared that he was against including a public option in health care reform, calling it a “deal breaker.” But Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim reports that in a meeting with health care advocates in Nebraska yesterday, Nelson said that he was open to including a public plan:

Nelson, according to two people in the room, told the group that he was open to a public option, the primary Democratic goal of reform and anathema to conservatives.

“The good news for all sides involved is that he’s open mined,” said Barry Rubin, the former Executive Director for the Nebraska Democratic Party, who was in the meeting. “He’s not closed minded about a public option.”

Jane Kleeb, a top Democratic powerbroker in Nebraska, said Nelson’s openness to a public option was the biggest takeaway from the meeting.

“He made it clear that he is open to the public option. That’s not a line in the sand where he says it must be off the table for him to move forward on health care reform,” she said.

Grim notes that Nelson had previously softened his position on the public option. After calling it a “deal breaker,” he told Huffington Post that he was “open to listening” to Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) proposals for striking a compromise on a public plan. Nelson is being targeted by Change Congress “in a mailing and Internet ad campaign asking people to withhold their political contributions to him and other members of Congress.”