CNN commentator Jeffrey Lord drew quite a bit of attention Thursday when he referred to President Donald Trump as the “Martin Luther King of health care.”
In Lord’s mind, the president’s effort to rally support for the Republicans’ overwhelmingly unpopular plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is akin to King’s work to advance civil rights in the United States.
“When I was a kid, President Kennedy did not want to introduce the civil rights bill because he said it wasn’t popular, he didn’t have the votes for it,” Lord, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan, said. “Dr. King kept putting people in the streets — in harm’s way — to put the pressure on so that the bill would be introduced.”
“That’s what finally worked,” he added.
The Trump supporter’s connection was immediately rejected by fellow network commentator Symone Sanders, who served as national press secretary for failed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
“Jeffrey, you do understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being beaten,” Sanders said. “Dogs were being sicced on them. Basic human rights were being withheld from these people merely because the color of their skin.”
“So let’s not equate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner, to the vagina-grabbing President Donald Trump,” she continued.
The exchange between Lord and Sanders led CNN host Alisyn Camerota to utter this two-word response: “Oh boy.”
WATCH: Jeffrey Lord this morning on CNN: "President Trump is the Martin Luther King Jr of health care." cc:… https://t.co/Pls4F9QZi3— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘) 1492092968.0
The battle over health care has been a tough one for Republicans to maneuver.
Earlier this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced the American Health Care Act, the Republicans’ legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The bill ultimately failed after GOP leadership failed to secure support for the bill from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, moderate Republicans, and Democrats.
Furthermore, only 17 percent of Americans supported the AHCA, nicknamed “Trumpcare,” according to a Quinnipiac University survey.
While the conservative wing of the Republican Party has called for a clean, unhampered repeal of Obamacare, in hopes of returning health coverage fully to the free market, Trump vowed in January to provide “insurance for everybody,” and in September 2015, he told CBS News’ Scott Pelley that the “government's gonna pay for” health coverage.