CHICAGO - President Obama bluntly told doctors yesterday that he is against their highest legislative priority - limiting malpractice awards - and earned a smattering of boos from an audience that he was here to court for his health- care-overhaul plans.

Lawyers are traditionally strong backers of the Democratic Party. They gave 76 percent of their contributions to Democrats in the last campaign cycle, according to opensecrets.org, making them the second-most pro-Democratic sector after organized labor.

Pushing to reshape the nation's health-care-delivery system and to extend coverage to the millions who don't have it, Obama went before the annual meeting of the American Medical Association and took on others who take issue with parts of his plan as well.

Obama warned interest groups, lobbyists and others against using "fear tactics to paint any effort to achieve reform as an attempt to socialize medicine."

AMA members applauded Obama's broad pitch to contain costs, to allow patients to keep seeing their doctors in any new plan and to expand coverage for the nation's 46 million uninsured. *