GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado (AFP) - President Barack Obama invoked his personal distress over his late grandmothers death, in his most emotional defense yet of his difficult health care reform drive. On a western tour mixing high-stakes politics with stops in majestic national parks, Obama said Saturday he was fighting a battle of hope over fear against critics who want to thwart his reform drive and stall his presidency. He debated several skeptical members of a Colorado crowd, and fired off high-octane rhetoric reminiscent of his 2008 campaign. Because we are getting close, the fight is getting fierce, Obama told a town hall meeting of around 1,600 people packed into a high-school gym here, accusing critics of trying to scare the American people. These struggles have always boiled down to a contest between hope and fear, he said, referring to past presidents crusades for pension and health care reform. Obama also took another swipe at Republicans who have claimed his plans would include a death panel to make fateful decisions to deprive terminally-ill elderly patients of expensive treatments. What you cant do, or you can, but shouldnt do is say things like we want to set up death panels to pull the plug on Grandma, Obama said. I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what its like to watch somebody you love, whos aging, deteriorate, and have to struggle with that. Obamas grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him, died last year soon after he paid her an emotional farewell visit in his native Hawaii, and just days before he was elected president. Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and other Republicans claimed death panels were included in draft Democratic legislation, but the bill would simply allow federal funding for counseling about end-of-life care. Administration officials were out in force on television talk shows Sunday to try to allay public fears dramatized in televised shouting matches between opponents of reform and members of Congress. I think most of what youre seeing, no offense, is good TV and thats about it, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on CBS television, when asked about the angry scenes that have played out at town hall meetings. But he said Obama understands that people have questions and concerns aout health insurance reform. I think one of the reasons the president is out there, has been out there three times in the past is to try to address the misinformation that is out there about health insurance reform. He also understands this isnt going to be easy, Gibbs said. In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Obama warned that in the coming weeks cynics and the naysayers would continue to try to undermine his proposals. But for all the scare tactics out there, whats truly scary truly risky is the prospect of doing nothing, he argued. If we maintain the status quo, we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day, noted the president. Premiums will continue to skyrocket. Our deficit will continue to grow. And insurance companies will continue to profit by discriminating against sick people. Both advocates and opponents of health care reform have filled the airwaves with competing advertising. According to The Times, supporters of Obamas plan have outspent opponents, with 24 million dollars worth of advertising, compared with nine million from opponents. An additional 24 million dollars has been broadly spent in support of overhauling the system without backing a specific plan, the report said. In Colorado, one young man challenged Obama, saying his plan for a government entity to compete with insurance firms to offer healthcare was not fair and would not work. Id love to have a debate, all-out Oxford-style, Colorado University student Zack Lane told Obama. Obama rejected Lanes arguments, but praised his boldness and respectful tone, implicitly comparing it to tirades replayed over and over again from congressional town hall events. Obama denies claims he is attempting to introduce a socialized system like the national health services in Canada and Britain, following dire portraits painted by his rivals of state-run medicine in those countries.