The Pence visit was intended to underscore to Paul and others that Kentucky voters dislike Obamacare, defeated the state’s former Democratic governor, and backed Trump in no small measure because of the political potency of health coverage issues, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said during a brief interview on Thursday.
Trump phoned the senator the same evening, assuring Paul that “he’s open to negotiation” on provisions of the House bill, Paul said Friday during a Breitbart News Daily radio interview. But Paul insisted he still wanted a “clean” repeal of the Affordable Care Act first, followed by a separate, market-based replacement for President Obama’s signature legislative invention.
As of Friday, Trump had been treating GOP holdouts with velvet gloves, using, for example, his Twitter account to call Paul “my friend,” and hosting a private White House dinner for Sen. Ted Cruz — another leading critic of the House bill — and his family.
But if the White House had hoped Kentucky’s GOP governor might link up with Pence and help pressure Paul to side with Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan in the interests of red state politics, the plan wobbled badly. Gov. Matt Bevin, who won election while assailing Obamacare, sounded a cautious note when he told reporters on Friday that he’s no fan of the House GOP health plan.