WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul might reverse his stated opposition “for the good of the Party!”
Arizona Sen. John McCain, whose announcement Friday that 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 that McCain, at 81 in the twilight of a remarkable career and battling brain cancer, 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. He jabbed at the senator with another tweet later in the day: “Democrats are laughingly saying that McCain had a “moment of courage.” Tell that to the people of Arizona who were deceived. 116% increase!”
The effort to rally support for the bill took another hit Saturday when the nation’s doctors, hospitals and health insurance plans unified in opposition to it. In a joint statement, major groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association called on the Senate to reject the bill and said, “Health care is too important to get wrong.”
With Senate Democrats unanimously opposed, two is the exact number of GOP votes that 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.