President Trump celebrated the Senate’s procedural vote earlier in the day on repealing ObamaCare but avoided discussing his frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a rally in Ohio on Tuesday night.
Though it still remains unclear whether the Senate will ultimately have the votes to pass health care legislation, Trump portrayed Tuesday’s vote as an important step.
The Senate voted 51-50 on Tuesday to start debate on legislation repealing former President Obama’s health care law.
“Only a few hours ago, the Senate approved a vote to begin debating the repealing and replacing the ObamaCare disaster,” Trump said at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown. “Finally. You think that’s easy? That’s not easy.”
He added, “We’re now one step closer to liberating citizens from this ObamaCare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people.”
The president also issued a warning to Republican senators on the fence.
“Any senator who votes against repeal and replace is telling America that they are fine with the ObamaCare nightmare, and I predict they’ll have a lot of problems,” he said.
The rally comes as the president has been lashing out his attorney general over Sessions’ recusal from the Russia meddling investigation. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump told reporters he was “disappointed” in Sessions and left open the door to getting rid of him. But he didn’t mention Sessions during the rally.
For about an hour, Trump delivered a freewheeling speech, reminiscent of those given during the 2016 campaign, on a variety of topics.
“I’m here this evening to cut through the fake-news filter and speak straight to the American people,” he said.
As he did during the campaign, he took shots at the reporters who cover him.
“This has been a difficult week for the media because I forced them to travel with us all around the country and spend time with tens of thousands of proud Americans who believe in the defending our values, our culture, our borders, our civilization and our great American way of life,” Trump said.
At one point, the crowd began to chant “build that wall.” The president then vowed to follow through on his campaign promise.
“Don’t even think about it,” he said. “We will build the wall.”
Several protesters were escorted out during the speech. After one particularly young-looking man was taken out, Trump remarked: “He’s a young one. He’s going back home to mommy. He’s in trouble.”
During the speech, Trump brought up a man named Gino Defabio, who said he was a longtime Democrat who voted for the president. He was wearing a shirt that said “Trump won, deal with it!”
The president also responded to those who say he doesn’t always behave like a president should.
“Sometimes they say he doesn’t act presidential,” Trump said. “And I say, hey look, great schools, great guy, it’s so easy to act presidential but that’s not going to get it done.”
He added, “With the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office. That I can tell you. It’s real easy.”
Looking back on his six months in office, Trump boasted of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accords. He also renewed his threat to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“And if we don’t negotiate a great deal with Mexico and Canada, we will terminate NAFTA and we’ll start all over again,” he said.
Attacking the media again, Trump made the crowd laugh by invoking the possibility a sculpture of him could be on Mount Rushmore.
“I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore,” Trump told the crowd. “But here’s the problem. If I did it jokingly, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say, ‘He believes he should be on Mount Rushmore.’ So I won’t say it, OK?”