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Trump Blames Dems After Bill Pulled, Says Obamacare 'Will Explode'

In the aftermath of his first major legislative defeat on health care, President Trump says it's probably best politically to let Obamacare 'explode'
Image: Trump speaks about the health care bill overhaul
President Donald Trump reacts to the AHCA health care bill being pulled by Congressional Republicans before a vote as he appears with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 24, 2017.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

In the aftermath of his first major legislative defeat, President Donald Trump is standing by his team, preaching confidence in House Speaker Paul Ryan, and remains convinced of Obamacare's eventual downfall.

"We were very close," he told reporters Friday afternoon after the health care vote was cancelled.

The lack of bipartisan support made passing the legislation difficult, Trump said, noting the lack of any Democratic support for the measure.

But the man who sold himself to America as a deal maker predicted another moment for negotiation — albeit far off in the legislative calendar. He returned to his campaign predictions that Obamacare would "explode" and that would eventually push Democrats back to the negotiating table.

"I believe Democrats will come to us and say, 'Look let's get together and get a great health care bill or plan that’s really great for the people of our country' and I think that’s gonna happen," Trump said, flanked by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence. Both Pence and Price won praise from the president for their work on the bill, as did Paul Ryan.

Though Trump has never been afraid to point fingers at members of his own party, his comments were those of unity and support for fellow Republicans — even those who wouldn’t follow him on his first major legislative foray as president.

The president praised Ryan for his “very, very hard” work on the legislation. He called members of the tough-to-wrangle conservative House Freedom Caucus “friends of mine,” despite voicing his disappointment — and surprise — that Republicans didn’t fall in line behind him and Ryan to pass the health care overhaul.

In a press conference, Ryan conceded that Obamacare remains "the law of the land" and that Americans would be “living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."

At least 34 Republicans had said publicly that they planned to vote against the measure or were leaning toward a no vote on the "American Health Care Act," according to the latest tally by NBC News prior to the measure being pulled. The GOP could afford only 22 defections.

Democrats cheered the legislative failure as one buoyed by grassroots push back to the Republicans' plan. At town halls across the country, constituents confronted GOP lawmakers in often emotional showdowns with pointed questions about the measure's fate.

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential contest, declared the outcome "a victory for all Americans" in a Tweet Friday afternoon.

Former President Barack Obama's spokesperson, Kevin Lewis, tweeted just after the news of the bill's failure an old picture of the president in the Oval Office. Just a day earlier, Obama issued a statement extolling the benefits of the law — his signature health care reform achievement.

Trump said his administration would now turn its attention toward a topic he was very excited about.

"Now we’re gonna go for tax reform," he told reporters. "Which I’ve always liked."