Georgia 2018: Gov candidate struggles with healthcare question on CNN

Republican Michael Williams struggled with a question over the cost of the Senate healthcare bill during a CNN appearance Saturday when asked about an upcoming fiscal analysis of the measure’s cost.

The state senator was questioned by a CNN anchor about the impact of the CBO score, a reference to the Congressional Budget Office workup of the Senate health plan.

“I’m not aware of what that score is,” he told the anchor, Victor Blackwell, who informed him it hadn’t come out yet but that an earlier analysis of the House bill found it would have left 23 million more people uninsured.

Williams: “Again, are we talking about people that are not insured right now in our country?”

Blackwell then reframed his question about the Senate plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Let’s look at the plan that Obamacare put forward. How many people lost their insurance coverage, couldn’t afford their insurance coverage,” said Williams, pausing and then audibly sighing. “I’m just extremely frustrated with the political environment.”

Williams said on Twitter he misheard Blackwell’s question about the “CBO” - he said he thought he referenced the “CDL” - and added that he’s “more than aware of the CBO and the wildly inaccurate reports they release.”

His spokesman Seth Weathers said online criticism about Williams' performance was a sign of "how desperate our opponents are becoming."

"He is the only candidate in the race for governor that can read a CBO report and understand what it means," said Weathers. "He tweeted after the interview and cleared this up. This is nonsense from our opponents - career politicians who have failed Georgia over and over again."

The Saturday morning appearance on CNN was heavily promoted by Williams campaign on Friday, and he spent much of it defending the plan that’s set for a vote this week.

“I haven’t read the complete bill, but we have to go up there and make sure that people can afford their payments,” he said. “I’ve experienced an increase in premiums with Obamacare and several other people have, and we can’t allow that to happen.”

Williams, a Cumming small business owner, is centering his campaign on his loyalty to Donald Trump and his vow to shake up what he calls a corrupt status quo at the Georgia statehouse.

He entered the race with a claim he was offered a backroom deal to drop his campaign, and got in hot water this month for posing for a picture with a controversial militia.

Watch it here:

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.