WASHINGTON (AP) — In an overheard phone call Wednesday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham leaned on a fellow senator to back his GOP health care bill despite "all its imperfections."
Graham called the "Obamacare" repeal bill he co-authored a "historic opportunity" and asserted: "We're going to vote. Everyone will be held accountable."
Graham made his comments in a cellphone call in front of a passenger at Reagan National Airport before he boarded a flight. A reference to working "for Arizona" suggests Graham was talking to his good friend John McCain. Graham's office did not dispute the quotes, nor confirm who was on the call.
McCain is a key holdout on the legislation that may come to a vote in the Senate next week. He was the deciding "no" vote on the last GOP health care bill, in July.
"Always believed it's the replacement part that's tripped us up," Graham said on the call, referring to the "repeal and replace" mantra that Republicans used for years against President Barack Obama's health care law. Seeking support for his own legislation, he said: "With all its imperfections, I hope you can."
Graham and President Donald Trump have a history of bad blood, dating back to 2015 when the South Carolina senator called Trump a "jackass" for challenging his friend McCain's heroism in the Vietnam War. Trump responded by giving out the senator's private cellphone number and later branded him a "poor, poor, pathetic man."
But in the last-ditch GOP attempt to upend Obamacare, Graham is counting on help from the president. "I talk with President Trump three times a day," he said on the call.