Did President Donald Trump just threaten members of his own party?
In a meeting with House Republicans Tuesday morning, Trump attempted to convince the remaining critics of the GOP health care bill to support the legislation when it goes to the House floor for a full vote on Thursday. Over the past two weeks, multiple health industry groups and Republicans had come out against the bill. Monday night, Republicans released a revised draft, which included specific provisions aimed at winning the support of moderates in the GOP’s New York delegation such as Reps. Chris Collins and Claudia Tenney.
According to two reporters covering the Tuesday meeting, Trump insinuated that those Republicans who voted against the bill could lose their seats in the next election:
Trump to House Rs on AHCA vote: "I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) March 21, 2017
Trump: House majority could be cooked if health care fails: "Many of you will lose you seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) March 21, 2017
Whether Trump meant to imply that he would support their primary challengers, or simply that their supporters would be upset if they voted against his bill, is unclear. Still, this isn’t the first time Trump has talked of supporting a primary challenge against a member of his own party. On March 10, the Washington Examiner reported that Trump made a similar threat in a meeting about the health bill with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
During his presidential campaign, Trump worked to raise the profile of candidates who supported his candidacy, even if they were running against sitting Republicans. In August, Trump tweeted thanks to Paul Nehlen, a primary challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan, for his support. Ryan easily won the primary election in his Wisconsin district against Nehlen.