Pool report #12 - POTUS remarks

From: John Bennett [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 4:51 PM
Subject: Pool report #12 - POTUS remarks

Pool report #12 - June 27, 2017

(Disclaimer: As always, please check all quotes against transcript.)

Flagging this interesting POTUS quote at top of report, which came near the end of his opening remarks: “This will be great if we get it done. And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like - and that’s okay. I understand that very well.”

**

The pool entered the East Room at 4:03 p.m., to find most Republican senators sitting around tables with white table cloths and black bunting. As we waited for POTUS and VPOTUS to enter, your pooler spotted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sitting on the far side (from the pool) of the room, mostly keeping to himself and surveying the scene. Beside McConnell was Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota.

POTUS and VPOTUS entered at 4:08 p.m. President Trump shook hands with some of the senators as he moved around to his seat on the far left of the room (as pool was looking at the table arrangement). Notably, he was sitting between health care bill holdouts Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“Welcome. We’ll discuss health care. We have really no choice but to solve the situation. Obamacare is melting down. Rates are going up,” Trump said to start the event.

POTUS said it was “interesting” that he was sitting beside Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski because her state has seen “206 percent increase in Alaska.” He said Arizona also has seen large rate increases.

Trump said there were either 50 or 52 GOP senators - there are 52 total in the Senate Republican caucus - around the tables. Your pooler counted nearly 50, but was unable to conclude an accurate count because of his fellow poolers doing their jobs in between him and one corner of the tables, which were aligned in a large square.

“And, John, either one is pretty good,” he said of the attendance to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who was seated on the side nearest the pool.

“So, we’re going to talk and we’re going to see what we can do,” Trump said. “We’re getting very close.” But for the country, we have to have health care. And it can’t be Obamacare, which is melting down.”

He criticized Democrats, whom he dubbed “the other side,” for saying “all sorts of things before they even knew what the bill was. This will be great if we get it done. And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like - and that’s okay. I understand that very well.

“But I think we’ve got a chance to something very, very important for the public [and] very, very important for the people of our country that we love.”

Trump then thanked the pool and asked us to leave, but he did take a shouted question. Here is his previously shared reply: "I think the Senate bill is going to be great."

The senators sat around the tables and paper placards marked each lawmaker’s spot. The setup did include some symbolism: Senators representing the various factions McConnell and Trump are trying to appease sat clustered in different spots. There were more moderate holdouts Collins and Murkowski on the far left, conservative opponents Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on the far right, with Cornyn and Trump ally Sen. David Perdue of Georgia sitting together closest the pool.

Pool exited the East Room at 4:11 p.m.

-30-

John T. Bennett

White House Correspondent

CQ Roll Call

xxx@email.com | @BennettJohnT - Twitter

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