Trump hosts 46 governors; Rauner boycotts White House dinner

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President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump hosted 46 governors at his first formal White House dinner on Sunday night — with Gov. Bruce Rauner refusing to attend the bipartisan event, even though a discussion of health care was on the menu — and Chicago crime is a frequent Trump target.

On Monday morning, the nations governors — minus Rauner — returned to the White House for a working session in the State Dining Room.


Once again, Trump mentioned crime in Chicago to the governors. “What’s going on in Chicago?” Trump said.

Rauner was not there to help provide an answer.

Rauner keeps his distance from Trump. He’s up for re-election next year in a heavily Democratic state.

But there comes a point to deal with governmental reality. Trump is the president. He delivers his first joint address to Congress on Tuesday. Trump’s budget goes to Congress next month. Big decisions are being made that will impact Illinois. Doesn’t Rauner want to have a voice in trying to influence Trump?

To consider . . . Unlike almost every governor in the nation, Rauner missed two potential chances to tell Trump what Illinois needs from the federal government.

Trump, in almost every speech — and in several Twitter posts — hits Chicago problem with shootings. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been to the Trump White House and done extensive outreach.

Rauner might want to reconsider: By refusing to attend events with Trump — Rauner is abdicating dealing with Chicago violence with a president who threatened to “Send in the Feds” to the city.


Rauner flew back to Illinois on Sunday morning after arriving in D.C. on Friday. On Monday, Rauner is at Mount Sinai Hospital, 1500 S. Fairfield, to unveil his plan to “transform Medicaid Services in Illinois.”

Mount Sinai is an apt place because the hospital for years has focused on providing services to the low-income medically underserved.

At the Rauner event: Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Felicia Norwood and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon.

When it comes to revamping Medicaid, Rauner can’t act alone if it involves the use of federal dollars.


Federal health policy is a very, very big deal for Illinois health care providers – hospitals and nursing homes and related enterprises — Illinois residents who receive Medicaid benefits — the county and state governments relying on federal dollars.

How Trump repeals and replaces Obamacare is a very big deal for Illinois, where Medicaid — the state and federal program providing insurance to the medically needy — takes up a big chunk of hard-to-find state dollars.

Medicaid was expanded in Illinois under former President Barack Obama as part of the Affordable Care Act.

At present, states can ask for “waivers” from certain Medicaid rules to revise the state programs.


Trump did not take the tweet bait served up Sunday night by Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel who tapped out a Twitter post on camera as part of his schtick: “Hey @realDonaldTrump u up?”

Instead, last night Trump was hosting his first big White House event. Before that, he sent out this post:

“Big dinner with Governors tonight at White House. Much to be discussed, including healthcare.” 2:13 p.m. Feb. 26, 2017

At the dinner, Trump said his proposed health plan will be “very, very special.”

Backstory: The dinner, billed as the “Governors Ball” was not a ball per se.

By tradition, presidents for years have hosted the nation’s governors at the White House on the Sunday night of their National Governors Association meeting here.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, is the NGA president.

According to a pool report: “Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy were seated at the center table with the president and first lady. After McAuliffe’s toast “To the President of the United States” he approached Potus and the two shook hands and embraced. Pool was ushered out immediately after that, but it appeared that Potus and the First Lady were occupying opposite sides of their table, not sitting side by side.

“WH reportedly working on list of attendees, but as per Potus remarks in pool report 1, there were 46 governors at the dinner — a record which seemed to delight the president. McAuliffe also noted that the dinner was the first formal dinner of the Trump presidency, which he took as a particular honor for the governors.”


Twitter post from McAufliffe: “Gov to @ChrisCuomo: healthcare will be at the top of the list of issues we raise at the White House today with the President” 6:26 a.m. Eastern Time


Rauner’s government spokesmen declined multiple requests to discuss why Rauner was skipping NGA work sessions – since he came to Washington anyway to participate in Republican National Governors Association activities. The RGA is mainly a political organization dedicated to electing GOP governors.

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