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Two Freedom Caucus Members Feeling Strong After Trump’s Threat Last Month

Sanford and Labrador still comfortable with their votes against health care bill

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said President Donald Trump threatened a primary challenge against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said President Donald Trump threatened a primary challenge against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford talked with CNN on Sunday about the threat he says President Donald Trump’s team made on his seat during the health care debate last month — a primary challenge against him.

“It all, I guess, fits in love, war and politics but I don’t think it’s particularly productive to his own legislative agenda and we’ll see what develops,” he said.

Sanford told CNN he’s had several town halls, including one last week, and his constituents “care deeply” about the health care issue and want Congress to “get it right.”

Trump’s primary challenge threat was later expanded on March 30 to include all members of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeting “we must fight them” along with Democrats, in 2018.

Sanford’s fellow Freedom Caucus member from Idaho, Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, held a town hall last week with his constituents, one of whom told McClatchy it was “laughable” anyone could convince them to vote against their congressmen.

Labrador back in March had responded to Trump, via Twitter, from the caucus saying they’d stood with him previously and to “remember who your real friends are.”

“I was being very friendly, just reminding him, ’We’re the ones who helped get you elected and the people who support us are the people who helped get you elected, and we want to continue to support you in that way,” Labrador told McClatchy after his town hall this week.

Others like Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona have also shot down the idea of primary challengers.

“If somebody can get to the right of me in the primary, God bless him,” Franks told Roll Call last month. 

Sanford on Sunday went into detail on how the president threatened his seat.

He said the president sent OMB director Mick Mulvaney, who previously served in the House with Sanford and is from his home state, as an emissary.

“He said the president hopes you vote against this because he wants to run somebody against you if you do,” Sanford told CNN. The proposed Republican repeal of the 2010 health care law pit Speaker Paul D. Ryan, other GOP moderates and the White House against the House Freedom Caucus, which objected to the bill that ultimately was pulled from a floor vote in March.

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