President Donald Trump reportedly told West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito that she could join him on Air Force One when he addressed boy scouts in her state only if she voted in favor of Senate Republicans’ healthcare bill, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Capito turned down the offer and said she wouldn’t commit to voting for a bill whose text she hadn’t yet seen, Republicans familiar with the conversation told The Times.
Trump’s offer to Capito came as Republican senators were pulling out all the stops to salvage their healthcare overhaul effort in the Senate. At the time, Capito was one of several Republican senators who expressed doubts about the bill. After a series of earlier votes on different versions of the plan failed, Republican senators put together a last-ditch “skinny repeal” plan.
The vote on the “skinny repeal” ultimately failed — 49 voted in favor, including Capito, and 51 voted against it, with Arizona Sen. John McCain casting the decisive vote. The bill’s failure came four days after Trump made the offer to Capito and gave a bizarre, freewheeling speech to a group of Boy Scouts in Capito’s home state of West Virginia.
Trump’s speech drew criticism for its increasingly political tilt, as the president took shots at the media, former President Barack Obama, and his 2016 general-election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Despite the mixed reaction the speech got, Trump told The Wall Street Journal that he had received a call “from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”
He continued: “And they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.”
Boy Scouts of America officials pushed back on Trump’s claim. According to Time magazine, the organization was “unaware of any call from national leadership placed to the White House” about Trump’s speech.
The Boy Scouts organization also distanced itself from Trump following his speech, apologizing to those who were “offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the Jamboree.”