— -- Following the collapse of the Republican-backed American Health Care Act this afternoon, President Donald Trump appeared to backtrack on his long-held stance that President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, should be repealed and replaced "immediately."
“I never said -- I guess I'm here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare -- you've all heard my speeches -- I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days," said Trump in the Oval Office Friday. "I have a long time.”
But his statement stood in stark opposition to the repeated pledge that a repeal would occur at the very start of his presidency.
Trump's campaign website noted the promise in clear terms, saying, "On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare."
At a speech in St. Augustine, Florida on Oct. 24, he vowed to repeal the current health care law as a part of his "contract with the American voter."
"It's a set of promises for what I'll do in my first 100 days. It includes getting rid of immediately Obamacare, which is a disaster," said Trump.
The line referencing an "immediate" "repeal and replace" was a staple of his stump speech, appearing regularly throughout an ABC News review of transcripts from Trump's primary and general election campaign events.
"My first day in office, I am going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability," said Trump on Oct. 25, a day after he St. Augustine speech, in Sanford, Florida. "You're going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost. And it's going to be so easy."
Then, just a week before the election in early November, Trump tied the success of a health care effort to his party's ability to maintain the majority in the House and Senate, which the GOP was able to accomplish.
“When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare -- have to do it," said Trump, who also added, "Obamacare has to be replaced and we will do it and we will do it very, very quickly."
A campaign press release on the speech doubled down on the promise in its title: "Donald J. Trump pledges to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare."
Trump additionally tweeted his intention to take action on health care at the start of his presidency as far back as February 2016 when he wrote, "We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare - and nobody can do that like me. We will save $'s and have much better healthcare!"