POTOMAC FALLS, Va. — President Donald Trump brought Sen. Rand Paul to his Virginia golf course on Sunday, planning to discuss health care with the outspoken critic of the failed plan to repeal and replace so-called Obamacare.
The outing to Trump National Golf Club came hours after Trump tweeted that talks on replacing the law have been going on and "will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck."
He added that anyone who thinks the effort is dead "does not know the love and strength in R Party!"
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Trump would be golfing and talking policy, including health care, with Paul, a licensed ophthalmologist, and budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Trump vanquished Paul in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. The Kentucky senator came out strongly against the House GOP legislation, and its collapse humiliated Trump in the early days of his administration.
After the outing, Paul said that "I think the sides are getting closer and closer together, and I remain very optimistic that we will get Obamacare repealed."
Trump and aides had argued for a vote in the final hours of negotiations around the bill, but Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan ultimately agreed to pull it, rather than face a loss if it had been put to a vote.
In an interview with the Financial Times published online Sunday, Trump said the bill was pulled because "I didn't want to take a vote. It was my idea."
Still, Trump said that "one way or the other, I promised the people great health care. We are going to have great health care in this country. Now, it will be in one form or another. It will be a repeal and replace of Obamacare which is the deal that is being negotiated now."
It is not clear how a new health care bill will come together, with deep divides among Republicans and little interest in cooperation from Democrats. Since the bill went down, Trump has repeatedly lashed out at members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who contributed to the defeat.
On CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, a member of the caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, responded to those attacks. He said "tweets and statements and blame don't change facts. And the facts remain the same. When you look at the document, when you look at the legislation, it doesn't repeal Obamacare."
Trump told the Financial Times that members of the caucus were "friends of mine." But he added: "if we don't get what we want, we will make a deal with the Democrats and we will have in my opinion not as good a form of health care, but we are going to have a very good form of health care and it will be a bipartisan form of health care."
The Sunday golf outing was not unusual for Trump, who has visited his golf courses in Virginia and Florida repeatedly since taking office. Sometimes these rounds incorporate official business, like when he played with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida.
For years, Trump railed against Obama when he was in office for golfing. Candidate Trump said if he won the election he'd probably be too busy to golf and would only play with people with whom he was looking to make deals.
And specifically regarding golf and Sen. Paul, Trump has been even more vitriolic:
"Recently, Rand Paul called me and asked me to play golf," Trump told the Washington Post in August 2015. "I easily beat him on the golf course and will even more easily beat him now, in the world in the politics.
"Senator Paul does not mention that after trouncing him in golf I made a significant donation to the eye center with which he is affiliated."