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In-town report #2
John Fritze • The Baltimore Sun
March 23, 2017: 04:10 PM

More from Cabinet Room/ Coverage of South Portico.

Trump was joined by Seema Verma, trucking CEOs and several drivers (listed below) at the Cabinet Room event. As noted in report #1, he did not take shouted questions on the AHCA vote. He spoke for about seven minutes:

"I know you had a big problem with Obamacare, and everybody does," the president told the group. "No one knows America like truckers know America. You see it every day. You see every hill, and you see every valley and you see every pothole in our roads that have to be rebuilt...

"Through day and night in all kinds of weather truckers course the arteries of our nation's highways. You carry anything and everything -- the food that stocks our shelves, the fuel that runs our cars and the steel that builds our cities.

"You think I wrote that?" Trump said to laughter. "I want to save that paragraph."

"But America depends on you. And you work very hard for America...


"Obamacare has inflected great pain on American truckers. Many of you were forced to buy heath insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. You experienced a crippling rise in premiums, and a dramatic loss in options. And you just take a look at what's happened to the costs, and it's incredible...

"You know the problems. And it's put a lot of the trucking businesses out of business, which is pretty tough."


"Today, the House is voting to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. We'll see what happens. It's going to be a very close vote. By the way, it's close not because Obamacare's good -- it's close for politics. They know it's no good. Everybody knows it's no good. Only, politics. We have a great bill and I think we have a very good chance. But it's only politics."

Trump then moved on to discussion of broader legislative agenda, promising to address trade, tax code, regulations, infrastructure.

The president joked a couple of times that he couldn't spend too much time with the truckers because of the AHCA vote.

"I'm not going to make it too long, because I have to get votes," he said to laughter. "I don't want to spend too much time with you. I'm going to lose by one vote and then I'm going to blame the truckers."

Participants then introduced themselves one by one. When a CEO from Flint, Mich., introduced himself, Trump chimed in:

"We just gave a check for a hundred million dollars to Flint. Think of that whole, horrible deal. That's great political leadership. What a disaster. In order to save a fee, they went to bad water and spent a fortune on pipes and infrastructure. Anyway, we're helping out Flint."

From the South Portico event that came minutes earlier (and with apologies for an earlier garbled email).

Pool was brought out to the South Lawn shortly before 3 p.m. for the truckers/CEO welcoming event. President Trump emerged from the residence at 3:01 p.m. in overcoat and blue tie. He was joined by VP Pence. Two large trucks were parked in front of the White House, one emblazoned with a U.S. flag and other with a photograph of a trucker, a boy and the words: "It takes 7 million people to move America...like my dad."

Trump made no remarks as he shook the hands of the drivers and CEOs, positioned in front of the trucks. Pool could overhear the president congratulating the drivers on their safety record: "Accident free," he said a few times. He later joked with the drivers as he turned to the CEOs, "Who makes more, them or you?"

The president then hopped up into one of the trucks. He hit the horn a couple of times, closed the driver side door and waved to the press from the window. After handshaking, the president walked toward the West Wing and was back inside the White House at 3:08 p.m.

A list of participants, per the American Trucking Associations:


* ATA President and CEO Chris Spear

* ATA Chairman Kevin Burch, president, Jet Express Inc., Dayton, Ohio;

* Jim Burg, president and CEO, James Burg Trucking Co., Warren, Mich.;

* David Congdon, CEO, Old Dominion Freight Line, Thomasville, N.C.;

* Mike Ducker, president and CEO, FedEx Freight, Memphis, Tenn.;

* Eric Fuller, CEO, U.S. Xpress Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.;

* Neal Kedzie, president, Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, Madison, Wisc.;

* Rich McArdle, president, UPS Freight, Richmond, Va.;

* Dennis Nash, CEO, Kenan Advantage Group, North Canton, Ohio;

* Tonn Ostergard, president and CEO, Crete Carrier Corp., Lincoln, Neb. and

* John Smith, chairman, CRST International Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


* Steve Fields, Independence, Mo., (YRC Freight);

* Ralph Garcia, Albuquerque, N.M., (ABF Freight System);

* David Green, Hot Springs, Ark., (Werner Enterprises);

* Rhonda Hartman, Des Moines, Iowa, (Old Dominion Freight Line);

* John Lex, Monroe, Ga., (Walmart Transportation);

* David Livingston, Springfield, Ga., (TCW Inc.);

* Don Logan, Eskridge, Kan., (FedEx Freight);

* Charlton Paul Jr., Chester, N.Y., (UPS Freight);

* Russell Simpson, South Vienna, Ohio, (Holland Inc.);

* Todd Stine, Altoona, Pa., (Carbon Express);

* Barney Earl Taylor, Orlando, Fla., (Penske) and

* Derrick Whittle, Fieldale, Va., (Cargo Transporters Inc.)

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