Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said that members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of nearly three dozen conservative Republican representatives, were trying to "save" President Donald Trump from becoming a one-term president by tanking the House Republicans' Obamacare replacement bill that Trump is backing.
He made the comments Wednesday night in response to CNN's Kate Bolduan's mention that Trump has threatened to help primary Republican members of Congress who didn't back the bill.
"During the meeting yesterday" Bolduan said, "when President Trump visited you all, he warned all of you that voting against this could mean some of you could lose your seats, and also that Republicans could lose the majority. Do you believe him?"
"We're afraid he's a one-term president if this passes," Massie responded emphatically. "We're trying to save him."
"The phone calls to my office are running 275 against vs. four — only four votes from my constituents are in favor of this," Massie said. "So this — electorally, voting for this is bad today, and it's gonna be really bad in two or three years when the changes start kickin' in and health insurance prices start going through the roof."
"But congressman," Bolduan objected, "you also know politically this president is a man that is known to take names. This president is known to have a long memory for those who go against him. Do you fear that he'll campaign against you when you vote 'no' on this?"
"Well, he's been to Kentucky, which you know I'm from Kentucky," Massie replied. "He was there this week, and [Vice President Mike] Pence was there the week before, but frankly, in Kentucky the vote against this bill is still the right vote. Whether Democrats are for 'no' or Republicans are for 'no,' there's just no constituency for this bill in Kentucky."
Massie went on to say that when Trump listened to conservatives and nominated a strict originalist for the Supreme Court, he was hailed as a hero, but after listening to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the replacement bill, his popularity has dropped.
Massie made it clear that he was "steadfastly in the 'no' column" earlier Wednesday by tweeting that he was vehemently a hard "no."
Sorry if I let you down. I'm changing my vote on #AHCA https://t.co/JLUotqaO9L— Thomas Massie (@Thomas Massie) 1490214368.0
The Kentucky congressman claimed that the bill would be defeated if it were put to a vote Thursday, saying that although the White House and Ryan were happily proclaiming that they had picked up more "yes" votes, it wasn't enough to overcome the margin he counted.
The bill is also being countered by a last minute effort backed by the Koch brothers to keep millions of campaign donations from those Republican members of Congress who vote for the bill. Trump has put his backing behind the bill, which Ryan called an "act of mercy" against the "nightmare of Obamacare."
[graphiq id="bAs4OR3Rtdz" title="Republican Lawmakers' Responses to the AHCA" width="600" height="597" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/bAs4OR3Rtdz" ]