Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke on Thursday, 12 October, as US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to unwind parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The move, which comes after a string of defeats in legislative efforts to repeal Obamacare over the past few months, was described by Paul as the "biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation".
"I'm very glad to be a part of this and I really want to commend the president for having the boldness and the leadership and the foresight to get this done," Paul said.
The senator said earlier that he had been working with Trump for months on a healthcare executive order.
However, viewers were quick to notice Paul's body language and apparent discomfort when Trump walked into the Roosevelt Room to sign the executive order.
While Trump spoke enthusiastically and shook hands with other officials and lawmakers in the room, Paul seemed to physically recoil, shift his glance from left to right, look down with his hands folded and avoid eye contact with the president.
He did not shake hands with the president either when he entered the room.
"I can say, when you get Rand Paul on your side, it has to be positive, that I can tell you," Trump said to laughter from the room. "I was just saying as he's getting up and saying all these wonderful things about what we're going to be announcing. I said, boy, that's pretty unusual. I'm very impressed."
The senator had opposed recent GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, arguing that it didn't go far enough.
Paul and Trump have had a rocky relationship in the past since the two faced off during the Republican primary stage in the 2016 election. During the race to the White House, Trump called Paul a "spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain". Paul, on the other hand, described the real estate businessman as a "delusional narcissist and an orange windbag", adding that a "speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president".
Twitter, on the other hand, immediately poked fun at Paul's most recent reaction to Trump, with footage of the awkward moment going viral on social media.
While one person said it looks like "a hostage situation", another said Paul "looked physically ill".
"He looks almost as nervous as Bannon did when he was next to those sheikhs in Saudi Arabia," one Twitter user wrote.
Another commented, "Rand Paul is every woman w/a predatory boss – except he doesn't have mortgage payment & sick kids preventing him from quitting/speaking out."