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President Trump takes on Senator McCain over health care vote

Posted at 2:34 PM, Sep 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-23 14:34:31-04

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday continued his criticism of Sen. John McCain, going after the Arizona Republican on Twitter after he threw the Senate GOP’s latest health care effort into jeopardy.

Trump, who also bashed McCain during a campaign rally Friday night, said the Arizona senator had let down his constituents, as well as his friend and fellow senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!” Trump began Saturday morning.

He continued: “Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums last year, with deductibles very high. Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad.”

Then: “Large Block Grants to States is a good thing to do. Better control & management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down!”

The criticism comes a day after the Arizona senator announced in a statement that he cannot “in good conscience” vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. McCain’s opposition, coupled with that of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, significantly hurts the GOP’s latest plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump spoke at a rally for Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama Friday night, calling out McCain. Recalling a list of 10 “no” votes he was told he needed to court, Trump said, “John McCain was not on the list, so that was an unexpected thing. Terrible. Honestly terrible.”

Paul is the other Republican senator to publicly announce his opposition. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has said she is leaning “no” on the proposal, and there are still questions as to where Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is at the moment. It’s also unclear if senators on the fence would support a procedural motion on the bill even if they decide they are against Graham-Cassidy in the end.

Trump added Friday that he still believes Paul could change his mind.

“I haven’t given up on him, because I think he may come around, OK? Wouldn’t it be ironic if he took John McCain’s place — and they definitely do not like each other. Wouldn’t that be ironic?” Trump said. “That would be very ironic, for those of you that know the inner workings of the Senate.”

Trump on Friday also railed against the Senate’s “crazy” 60-vote threshold to pass legislation, complaining that — with Republicans controlling only 52 seats — it’s impossible to pass bills. He said the GOP can pass bills under special budget reconciliation rules that require just 51 votes, “but that’s a trick. That’s just a trick.”

Trump followed up his attacks on McCain Saturday by expressing optimism that Paul and Murkowski could come around to support the bill.

Trump has publicly clashed with McCain on several occasions since he began his campaign in 2015. Most notably, the then-candidate was widely criticized after he questioned McCain’s credentials as a war hero, citing his capture during the Vietnam War. But after McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer over the summer, the President on Twitter welcomed back the man he called an “American hero.”