WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will flex the deal-making muscles he honed as an international real estate developer to win over conservatives opposed to his Obamacare-replacement bill, his spokesman said Wednesday.
Trump is open to revisions but isn’t simply in listening mode, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
“He’s in a very much of a sell mode,” Spicer told reporters. “Obviously, it’s going through the process . . . But make no mistake, the president is very proud of the product that we have produced. We’re out in full sell mode all around the country.”
Trump campaigned on a promise to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare, but the House GOP blueprint unveiled Monday to his approval has met staunch resistance from conservative lawmakers and policy groups for retaining some of the mandates of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.
The president met Wednesday evening at the White House with leaders of groups that oppose the new bill, including Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and Tea Party Patriots.
Heritage Action had said Tuesday that the House GOP plan — titled the American Health Care Act — “not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them.”
The meeting was closed to the press.
Spicer expressed confidence in Trump’s powers of persuasion.
“He is a dealmaker. He’s a negotiator. He’s a world-class business leader,” the press secretary said. “And he’s been highly successful at it. So if anybody can get a deal on something, it’s going to be Donald Trump.”
The president, who on Tuesday embraced the legislation as “our wonderful new healthcare bill,” had tweeted later that night that the GOP congressman for Kentucky who denounced the plan as “Obamacare Lite” will change his mind.
“I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!” Trump wrote.
Also Wednesday, Spicer preemptively criticized the record of the independent Congressional Budget Office, which is expected to score the Obamacare-replacement plan by next week.
The estimate on the cost of the legislation and how many Americans it would provide with insurance will influence public opinion and congressional votes.
“Of course, cost matters, but look at how off they were last time,” Spicer said. “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place. I mean they were way, way off the last time in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare.”
A CBO spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
In the morning, Trump marked International Women’s Day with a tweet that read: “I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”
But he was reminded on social media of past comments he made insulting women, including a 2005 recording unearthed during his campaign in which he boasted that his fame entitled him to grab by the genitals any woman he desires.
A large crowd of women, many dressed in red and participating in the “Day Without a Woman” strike, gathered for at a rally outside the White House.
“Trump is afraid of us,” National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill told the crowd.