Vice President Mike Pence touted the strong economy and, despite moves by Congress to turn to other issues, pledged to keep pushing for repeal of the Affordable Care Act in a speech to a record 2,000 people at the Tennessee Republican Party's annual Statesmen's Dinner.
In a brief visit to Nashville Thursday night to rally GOP supporters, Pence could not deny that the Trump administration has suffered setbacks in its quest to undo the ACA. But, he told the crowd inside the Music City Center, that the fight over Obamacare "ain't over by a long shot."
"President Trump and I are absolutely committed to keeping our promise to the American people. We were not elected to save Obamacare. We were elected to repeal and replace it."
That vow comes even though Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is trying to put together a bipartisan plan to shore up insurance markets under Obamacare.
Alexander flew to Nashville with Pence on Air Force Two, and he confirmed he discussed the upcoming hearings with the vice president. But Alexander refused to give any indication whether the administration would support his efforts or try to undermine the ACA as much as possible.
Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, would not even say there's a contradiction between trying to save coverage under the ACA and voting to repeal it.
"I voted three times last week to repeal and replace Obamacare. I can do that again," Alexander said. "But in the meantime, we're going to have hearings, with Democrats and Republicans, about the best way to make sure Tennesseans have affordable insurance options."
Alexander hopes to hold hearings in September on the ACA.