President Trump admits defeat on healthcare bill: 'Damaging loss of face'

Gerard Tubb, Sky News Correspondent

Whether you see Donald Trump's failed attempt to repeal Obamacare as an embarrassing defeat or a bold step to strengthen his grip on power depends on your faith in the president's political acumen.

After days of frantic lobbying and an ultimatum from the Trump team to recalcitrant Republicans - back this repeal of Obamacare or you're stuck with it - House Speaker Paul Ryan took the list of non-supporters to the White House on Friday lunchtime.

Told he would certainly lose the vote, Mr Trump carried out his threat and metaphorically tore up all hope of early delivery of a key campaign pledge.

For the man who claims to be a consummate dealmaker, it was either a total failure or a deliberate tactic to marshal his supporters against the forces of opposition in the Republican party.

Having scrapped the bill , he does not now face a fight to steer it through the Senate.

And he also avoids growing dissatisfaction around the country over the growing realisation about how many poorer and older Americans - a large part of Mr Trump's support base - would lose their healthcare under his proposals.

But despite the president's self-proclaimed business skills hyped in the books ascribed to him, many people see his admission of defeat after all the lobbying as a damaging loss of face.

In "The Art of the Deal" Mr Trump is credited with saying: "The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you're dead."

But business rivals and politicians alike know that books with Mr Trump's name on the cover give a less-than-reliable insight into his methods.

"The Art of the Deal" ghost-writer Tony Schwartz says that the book "put lipstick on a pig", and Howard Kaminsky, the-then head of the book's publisher Random House, insists: "Trump didn't write a postcard for us."

And while his business maxims are hard to divine, Mr Trump gave the impression last week that he is still making the transition from property magnate to head of state.

He told reporters in a news conference: "We're a very powerful company," before correcting himself: " .. a very powerful country."

If the vote to repeal Obamacare was Mr Trump's high-profile attempt to show who is the boss of that country, the president or Congress, it has signally failed to make the matter clear.

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