Republican Rep. Jim Jordan is trying to draw a sharp contrast with his chief competitor for the speakership, arguing that he would be a more effective messenger for his party to the American public as he tries to win Republican holdouts ahead of next week’s pivotal vote.
In an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju on Friday, Jordan made clear how he sees the race against House Majority Leader Steve Scalise. As Scalise courts GOP lawmakers privately, Jordan is making the case in public that he can serve as a key messenger for the party ahead of the 2024 election – pointing to former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and arguing that the next speaker needs to play a highly visible role in defending the Republican agenda.
Jordan told Raju he believes the speaker’s race comes down to “who can unite the conference, who can unite conservative Republicans and our party around the country, and then who can go tell the country what we’re doing and why it’s important to them, to their family, to their business, to their community.”
“Someone has to (run) who can bring the team together and can go communicate to the country – and that’s why I’m running,” he said.
Trump has injected himself into the race by endorsing Jordan, a staunch ally of the former president. That endorsement will bolster Jordan’s conservative credentials, but he is already facing questions over whether he is too conservative for more moderate members of the conference.
Jordan told Raju, “I appreciate the president’s endorsement,” calling Trump the “leader of the party,” and saying, “I think he’s going to be our next president.”
But the Ohio Republican made clear he’s working to win over the full ideological spectrum of the conference. “We’re focused also on, you know, the key thing is our colleagues and I’m talking with, you know, we’ve got from Freedom Caucus, to people in the middle, to committee chairs, to Jeff Van Drew, who was a Democrat four years ago, we got all kinds of across the board support and we’re just going to keep working.”
Jordan has made a name for himself as a staunch Trump defender and a face of key House GOP investigations as chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee. Scalise, as the No. 2 House Republican, is a veteran of House GOP leadership and has relationships across the conference that he can now seek to leverage – pointing to the actions he has taken to help Republicans on everything from fundraising to getting their legislation on the floor.
Scalise told Fox News that he and Trump had a conversation around the former president’s endorsement of Jordan, saying “we spoke, obviously.” He noted that there are “a lot of friendships in this race.”
“At the end of the day, it’s a lot of one-on-one conversations over the last few days I’ve been having with my colleagues and a lot of introspection about how we get things back on track. The problems that we have internally, they don’t go away with a new speaker,” the Louisiana Republican said.
Jordan and Scalise will have an opportunity to outline their respective visions for the House Republican caucus on Monday during a joint interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, the network announced on Friday.
House Republicans are expected to hold a candidate forum on Tuesday and meet Wednesday to elect a speaker nominee for the conference. It is not yet clear when a floor vote of the full House to elect a new speaker will take place, though it is possible it could be as early as Wednesday.
The conference is scrambling to find a new leader following former speaker Kevin McCarthy’s stunning ouster in a historic House vote and his subsequent decision not to run again. But deep divides and simmering tensions in the conference have only intensified and it remains to be seen whether either Jordan or Scalise will be able to secure the majority vote of the full House needed to win the gavel.