WASHINGTON —Unwilling to concede defeat on a bedrock GOP promise, President Donald Trump on Saturday tried to sway two Republican holdouts on the party’s last-ditch health care hope, while clawing at his nemesis who again has brought the “Obamacare” repeal-and-replace effort to the brink of failure.
Trump appealed to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a possible “no” vote, to swing around for the sake of Alaskans up in arms over high insurance costs, and suggested Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul might reverse his stated opposition “for the good of the Party!”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., whose announcement Friday he would not vote for the proposal seemingly scuttled efforts to revive the repeal, came under renewed criticism from the White House. It was the second time in three months McCain had emerged as the destroyer of his party’s signature and yearslong pledge to voters on health care.
“He campaigned on Repeal &Replace. Let Arizona down!” Trump tweeted.
With Senate Democrats unanimously opposed, two is the exact number of GOP votes Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can afford to lose. McCain and Paul are in the “no” column, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is leaning against the bill and Murkowksi is also a possible “no.”
But Trump isn’t letting go, as seen by his series of tweets while he spends the weekend at his New Jersey golf club.
Aiming at Murkowski, Trump cited increases in premiums and other costs in Alaska under the Affordable Care Act. “Deductibles high, people angry! Lisa M comes through,” he wrote.
Trump, without offering support for his assertion about former presidential rival Paul, said, “I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!”
But there was no doubt where Trump stood on McCain.
“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill,” Trump said. The measure was co-written by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s closest Senate ally, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
“McCain let his best friend L.G. down!” Trump said, adding the health bill was “great for Arizona.” The measure was co-written by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s closest Senate ally, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
McCain, in explaining he could not “in good conscience” vote for the legislation, said both parties “could do better working together” but hadn’t “really tried.” He also he could not support the measure “without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”