US closer to liberation from 'Obamacare nightmare', says Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump has taken a victory lap in Ohio with the voters who helped put him in office, following a slim, but symbolic health care win in Washington.

"We're now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people," Mr Trump told a crowd of several thousand in Youngstown.

He spoke hours after the Senate took a small step towards the Republicans' promise to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama's health care law, voting to move forward with legislation.

"You think that's easy? That's not easy," Mr Trump declared.

Yesterday's trip to Youngstown, a staunchly working-class, union-heavy enclave that has long helped anchor Democrats in Ohio, served as a welcome distraction from Washington for a president who loves to relive his once-unlikely election day win.

In a room filled with supporters, Mr Trump talked up his first six months in office, claiming that no other president had done "anywhere near" what he had in his first six months - "not even close".

Trumpeting his administration's tough approach to illegal immigration and criminal gangs, he described people "screaming from their windows, 'Thank you, thank you'," to border patrol agents and his Homeland Security secretary.

"We're liberating our towns and we're liberating our cities. Can you believe we have to do that?" he asked, adding that law enforcement agents were rooting out gang members - and "not doing it in a politically correct fashion.

"We're doing it rough. Our guys are rougher than their guys," he bragged.

Mr Trump also said he had been working with a pair of Republican senators to "create a new immigration system for America".

"We want a merit-based system, one that protects our workers" and one that "protects our economy", he said, endorsing legislation introduced by senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would put new limits on legal immigration.

Before the rally, Mr Trump stopped at a veterans' event as part of the White House's week-long celebration of servicemen and women.

Following brief remarks by several of his cabinet members, the president entered a small room of veterans, several of them over 80, and praised them for their commitment and sacrifice for the country.

"A truly grateful nation salutes you," Mr Trump told the group in Sutherland.

But he quickly shifted gears to recall his unexpected election win in Ohio, praising Youngstown and towns like it for helping him secure the electoral votes that put him over the top.

"It was incredible time we had. You saw the numbers," he said.

"Democrats, they win in Youngstown - but not this time."

Mr Trump has mainly sought to re-litigate his 2016 victory in friendly territory, escaping Washington to recharge with boisterous crowds that embrace his jabs at "fake news" media, Democrats and even those Republicans he once vowed to defeat in his effort to "drain the swamp".

On Tuesday night, he said repeatedly that he believed in speaking directly to the American people and not through the "fake news" media.

He joked about accusations that he does not act "presidential".

"It's so easy to act presidential," he said. "But that's not going to get it done."

Mr Trump may have scored a victory in moving the Obamacare repeal debate forward, but the Senate later blocked a wide-ranging proposal by Republicans to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a more restrictive plan.

Senators voted 57-43 to reject the plan in the first vote on an amendment to the bill. Those voting No included nine rebel Republicans.

The vote underscored problems Republicans will have in winning enough votes to recast Mr Obama's statute.

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