Trump decides yes, he can stay mad at Freedom Caucus for health care defeat

President Trump did not blame House Republicans for failing to pass the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare after it was abruptly pulled. Nor did Trump blame conservative House groups — like the Freedom Caucus — that refused to get in line.

That was Friday. His self-restraint lasted for almost two days.

“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” Trump tweeted early Sunday.

The founder of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., refused to fire back.

“No one has been more self critiquing than me,” Meadows said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. “I can tell you as I’ve looked at all of this, I said, could I have spent a little bit more time, should I have spent more time with the Tuesday Group, more time with Democrats to find some consensus.”

Meadows also refused to say the GOP fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is over.

“It’s like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime,” he said. “We may be in overtime, but I can tell you, at the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be President Trump on this. Because he will deliver. He’s committed to the American people. And we’re committed to helping him get there.”

The president had a similar message hours before House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled Friday’s vote after he was unable to secure the required 216 votes for the American Health Care Act.

“The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!” he tweeted.

But speaking to reporters at the Oval Office after the bill was pulled, Trump resisted the urge to point his finger at the Freedom Caucus, a hard-line conservative House group founded just two years ago.

“I’m not betrayed,” Trump said. “They’re friends of mine. I’m disappointed because we could’ve had it. So I’m disappointed. I’m a little surprised I could tell you. We really had it, it was pretty much there … but what’s going to come out of it is a better bill. Because there were things in his bill that I didn’t particularly like.”

Instead, Trump blamed Democrats for not helping the GOP dismantle the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law better known as Obamacare.

“We had no Democrat support,” Trump said. “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now.”

Related: Dealmaker Trump can’t close the Obamacare deal

“If [Democrats] got together with us, and got us a real health care bill, I’d be totally OK with that,” the president continued. “The losers are [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare. They 100 percent own it. They have Obamacare for a little while longer until it ceases to exist, which it will at some point in the near future.”

Schumer said Trump’s attempt to place blame for the bill’s failure on Democrats was “another one of his big tall tales.”

“He couldn’t get enough Republican votes,” Schumer said. “He never tried to reach out to Democrats in any way. So the blame falls with President Trump and the Republicans.”

“In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today,” Schumer continued. “They can’t write policy that actually makes sense, they can’t implement the policies they do manage to write, they can’t get their stories straight, and today we’ve learned that they can’t close a deal and they can’t count votes.”

Pelosi and other Democrats took a victory lap.

“Today’s a great day for our country,” Pelosi said at a press conference shortly after the bill was pulled. “It’s a victory. What happened on the floor is a victory for the American people — for our seniors, for people with disabilities, for our children, for our veterans.”

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., took it a step further.

“Hey Republicans, don’t worry,” he tweeted. “That burn is covered under the Affordable Care Act.”

(Cover thumbnail photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

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