GOP Senate hopeful Nardolillo opposes health bill

State Rep. Bobby Nardolillo, R-Coventry.

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Unlike many of his fellow Republicans nationally, Rhode Island U.S. Senate candidate Robert “Bobby” Nardolillo does not support the push to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“What’s working here in Rhode Island might not be working nationally,” Nardolillo explained Friday during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “I am not making a decision under a party umbrella; I serve the people – I don’t serve the party.”

Nardolillo, a two-term state representative from Coventry, announced his candidacy last week to take on Democratic incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse. But before he can focus on Whitehouse, he may have to face a GOP primary challenger: former R.I. Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders told last week that he is “definitely leaning towards doing it.”

During Friday’s interview, Nardolillo said he would have voted against the American Health Care Act, the Republican Obamacare replacement plan that passed the U.S. House last month. He said he hopes the U.S. Senate will address some of his concerns with the House legislation as the upper chamber takes it up.

Nardolillo described his concerns in broad terms, saying they related to the availability of coverage. “I feel strongly that when it comes back out it will address a lot of these concerns that will hopefully make me feel and Rhode Islanders feel comfortable,” he said.

Despite being an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, Nardolillo said he does not support President Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying, “I always felt as if you’re looking at a structure you’re going to find a way to climb over it.”

However, Nardolillo said he does approve of Trump’s decision to propose increased funding for more border patrol agents. He also said he supports Trump’s executive order on immigration that would ban people from certain countries from entering the country.

“I call it a halt, it’s been defined as a ban,” he said. “Any administration when they come in … they need to take a halt, they need to revisit a position where they are seeing that there has been negligence.”

On Russia, Nardolillo said he supports an independent investigation to answer all questions as to whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. But said he agreed with Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, primarily because Nardolillo didn’t think Comey was hard enough on Hillary Clinton.

“I would have said charges should have been brought,” Nardolillo said. “So when he sat there through these investigations I just felt there could have been more [of a] firmer position. Something of substance to come out where folks felt satisfied in the end.”

Tim White ( ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook