Mo Elleithee, who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, said the administration can argue that in a dysfunctional, highly partisan Washington, the president found a way to compromise.
"I think what he did today was one of those great examples of good policy and good politics," Elleithee said. "A lot of people wanted to turn this into a war between women's rights and religious liberties. As long as that narrative existed, it wasn't good for the White House. The solution allows him to show commitment to contraceptives for women and sensitivity to religious liberty and maybe most importantly compromise while finding a win-win solution."
Republicans vowed to continue to fight, looking to push legislation in the House and possibly the Senate on religious liberty. Even if the measures stand little chance, it would force Democrats to cast a vote in an election year. They also signaled that they will argue the issue on economic terms, contending that free birth control coverage will mean increased health care premiums for many Americans.
"The administration promised during debate on the health care law that constitutional rights would not be infringed and that costs would go down," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "We now know that's not true."
Obama already knows his opposition in that battle.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Donna Cassata covers Congress for The Associated Press and was the AP's political editor in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
An AP News Analysis