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Opposing Views On Health Care Put Portman In Tough Spot At GOP Dinner

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd.
Justis Harrison
Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd following the annual Ohio GOP Dinner in Columbus on July 22, 2017

The Ohio Republican Party’s state dinner this weekend brought in hundreds to Columbus, and included two leaders with two different perspectives on the Senate health care bill. And that put the person who will actually be voting on it in a tough position.

Senator Rob Portman is undecided on the health care bill, which he touched on in his speech.

“I’ve talked to a lot of you about that tonight, and half of you have told me one thing and half of you told me another thing,” Portman said.

Portman then introduced Vice President Mike Pence, who urged Senators to pass the bill. Also at the reception before the dinner was Gov. John Kasich, who’s come out against the bill and what it would do to Medicaid expansion in Ohio. But Kasich's spokesperson said Kasich and Pence did not see each other.

Pence's speech came a week after he made comments about Ohio's Medicaid expansion, which Kasich labeled "fake news." Pence praised Kasich's performance in office and drew laughs referencing the spat.

"You know, I've known your governor for a long time, and John and I occasionally have differences of opinion," Pence said.

Three of the four candidates for governor also spoke, with Rep. Jim Renacci, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine praising Pence but not mentioning Kasich. Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who's been endorsed by Kasich, was scheduled in the program but her spokesman says she was traveling and couldn’t make it.