News US Election 2016

Thursday 8 December 2016

Trump backs down over Obamacare and Hillary

Trump ducks questions over his extreme campaign promises

David Smith

Published 13/11/2016 | 02:30

Donald Trump and Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Donald Trump and Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Donald Trump appears to be backing away from several of his more extreme campaign promises, raising hopes that he could prove to be more moderate once he takes office on January 20 next

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The non-politician who pledged to "drain the swamp" of Washington insiders appears to have dived straight into it. He has drawn up a transition team of political old hands, led by vice-president-elect Mike Pence, the Indiana governor with longstanding ties to Congress. Critics, however, warn of seeking to normalise Trump - whose anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric has sown division and delighted far right groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

"The new narrative among top GOP leadership aides around DC is that Trump might just govern like a middle-of-the-road, moderate New York Republican," the Politico website stated. "The guy wants $1trn in roads, tax reform and changes to the healthcare law.

"He's not interested in answering questions about his plan to ban Muslims or build a wall on the border with Mexico - it's almost like he didn't campaign on those issues! He's not going to get in the weeds and dictate details - that's what House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are for. He's going to defer to Mike Pence on tactics and relationship building. What if he fooled us all?"

Trump visited the White House on Thursday and had a cordial meeting with Obama, a man whose birth certificate he once questioned and who had declared him unfit for the presidency. Trump later promised to consider retaining aspects of Obama's Affordable Care Act "out of respect" for the outgoing president.

Trump also struck a conciliatory note when discussing Clinton, who he once branded "crooked Hillary". He told CBS: "So, Hillary called, and it was a lovely call, and it was a tough call for her, I mean, I can imagine."

Trump has ducked questions over his campaign pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, insisting that securing the border, healthcare reform and job creation should take priority. He said he would "certainly think about" calling former president Bill Clinton for advice, as well as Obama.

So far he is also relying heavily on politicians, Republican officials and donors and lobbyists from "inside the beltway", including veterans of both Bush administrations, despite his vows to tear down the political establishment and start afresh.

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