During a Wednesday appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) hit back against a report by the New York Times which claimed that President Donald Trump’s previously close relationship with him had soured.
The Times report states that Trump told a group of Republican Senators at a Monday dinner “how annoyed he was” at Rand Paul for his appearances on multiple Sunday shows in opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).
“It is one thing to vote no,” Trump reportedly said. “It is another to go on all of the Sunday shows and complain about it.”
Trump has notoriously been intolerant of attempts by others to upstage him, having marginalized White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon for appearing on the cover of Time in February.
Questioned by George Stephanopoulos about the report during his ABC interview, Paul flatly denied the allegation.
“I think the President and I have a good relationship. I’ve been one of his strongest defenders. I will continue to defend him against mainstream media attacks, but on issues of substance like health care, he knows where I’m coming from, I’ve been here, you know, ever since I ran for office, I was at the first Tea Parties saying that Obamacare was a mistake and that we should repeal it – the whole thing.”
Paul argued that his stance against the Senate’s legislation was in large part because he believed the legislation could cause damage to the Republican Party in future elections.
“I’m also fearful, both politically and from the point of view of policy, that if we keep parts of Obamacare in place that the Republican plan will fail,” Paul continued. “I’m really wanting Republicans to be saved from themselves, because if they take over health care and pass something that resembles Obamacare and doesn’t work, then we will own a terrible and tragic health care system and I don’t think Republicans ought to own this thing.”
“I agree with the President – Obamacare’s a disaster – but it’s the Democrats’ creation and all the problems of its unravelling belong to the Democrats.”
Paul’s strategy during the Trump era has largely been to cultivate a cordial relationship with the President, a former rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, by vehemently defending Trump during television interviews, particularly on the deeply contentious issue of Russian involvement in U.S. elections. Consequently, Paul has been able to exert influence on the new administration, successfully blocking the appointment of Bush-era neoconservatives to posts within the State Department. However, if the report by the New York Times is true, he may have to do more to get back in good graces with President Trump.