“Carnival of idiots”: GOP holdouts threaten embarrassing defeat for Jordan as “bullying” backfires

Jim Jordan Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Jim Jordan Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
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The House GOP is expected to vote on a new speaker as early as Tuesday at noon but House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is far from a lock to win the seat despite a pressure campaign to win over holdout Republicans.

Jordan managed to flip several Republicans who vowed to vote against his nomination but he remains "at least 10" votes short of the 217 he needs to win and some members say "his support is very soft and there are likely more than two dozen people inclined to vote against him," according to CBS News' Robert Costa. Jordan has signaled that the House may hold multiple votes in hopes of pressuring the holdouts to come onboard. It took former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., 15 ballots to win the job.

Jordan signaled confidence Monday night after a weekend pressure campaign successfully flipped several lawmakers in his favor: Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo.; Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.; Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.; and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala.

"Look, I felt good walking into the conference," Jordan said on Monday night. "I feel even better now. We’ve got a few more people we want to talk to, listen to. And then we’ll have a vote tomorrow."

Axios reporter Juliegrace Brufke, on Sunday shared an email she was given that showed how a representative from Fox News host Sean Hannity's show asked officials to explain why they weren't in favor of Jordan.

"Sources tell Hannity that Rep xxxx is not supporting Rep Jim Jordan for speaker," the email reads. "Can you please let me know if this is accurate? And, if true, Hannity would like to know why during a war breaking out between Israel and Hamas, with the war in Ukraine, with the wide open borders, with a budget that's unfinished why would Rep. xxxx be against Jim Jordan for speaker? Please let us know when Rep xxx plans on opening the People's House so work can be done. Lastly, are there any conditions Rep xxxx will work with Democrats on the process of electing a new speaker? The deadline for comment is 11 AM tomorrow 10/16. Thank you."

Conservative Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis, criticized Jordan's "bullying" tactic on Monday.

"'Several of Mr. Jordan’s supporters have posted the phone numbers of mainstream G.O.P. lawmakers they count as holdouts,' according to The New York Times," wrote Lewis. "Meanwhile, a producer for Fox News’s Sean Hannity reportedly began a thinly veiled pressure campaign by querying GOP House members about their refusal to support Jordan ... Not since a Tucker Carlson questionnaire scared Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into throwing Ukraine under the bus has 'just asking questions' been so effective."

"If Jordan wins," Lewis continued, "it means Republicans will have elected a speaker who opposes Ukraine funding and wanted then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject Joe Biden's electoral votes. What is more, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s insurgent strategy will have been successful, as a small group (just four percent) of House Republicans will have unilaterally ousted a House speaker — and replaced him with their chosen successor."

"Sincere or not, Team Jordan’s 'good cop/bad cop' routine is smart," he added. "It provides normal Republicans with an off-ramp to support Jordan, while also saving face. It is, after all, more honorable to be sweet-talked than to be intimidated," concluded Lewis. Or at least, "If Jim Jordan becomes Speaker Jordan, that’s what they will tell themselves, anyway."

But Jordan holdouts still abound, though, as The Hill observes, many of his critics have not rallied in solidarity around an alternate option.

“I’m gonna vote the way I voted the first time, the first election we had,” said Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. “I’m voting for Steve Scalise.”

“They don’t need to lecture me on the way things work," he added. "I’m 75 years old. I’ve watched it my entire life how things work. This is what tears teams apart. This doesn’t make them closer."

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Other lawmakers — including Reps. Carlos Giménez, R-Fla., Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., and Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.— indicated they would offer support for recently ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was recently booted from the position by a far-right coup largely orchestrated by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., said she will “have an objection” if Jordan does not garner the 217 votes needed to clinch the win, telling reporters, “I truly believe if he doesn’t, we need to go back and have … meeting and try to reconcile our differences privately versus going to floor and have a show that will only benefit the other side."

“No ma’am, I think we still need conversations,” said Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, when asked if she would vote to nominate Jordan. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., indicated that he is against Jordan for the time being, but noted that he would be speaking to the House Judiciary Chairman in a meeting that night; chiefly, Buck wanted to discuss the Capitol insurrection.

“If he’s gonna lead this conference during a presidential election cycle, particularly a presidential election year with primaries and caucuses around the country, he’s gonna have to be strong and say Donald Trump didn’t win the election,” Buck said.

Democrats have also been up in arms over the prospect of a Jordan speakership. Former Sen.Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told MSNBC's Nicole Wallace that it was "astounding" that House Republicans are seeking to nominate Jordan.

“I don’t know how long he’ll be speaker,” McCaskill said.

“You know, we may be back here again in another month, or two months, and talking about him being removed,” she continued. “They have a huge schism in their party and it is between people who have the same foundational values the Republican Party has always had and the Trump people and never the two are going to mix well.”

“They may paper over it tomorrow but I can’t imagine this is going to bode well for our country over the next six months."

On a recent episode of Fox and Friends, host Brian Kilmeade referred to House GOP members as a "carnival of idiots," while anchors Lawrence Jones and Ainsley Earhardt concurred that the situation has become "ridiculous."

"Don’t forget this if you live in an area where your congresswoman or congressman if they’re the ones that are holding out,” Earhardt said. “Don’t forget this when it comes time to vote. Republicans need to unite and stick together. The Democrats do it beautifully, and Republicans, for some reason, can’t seem to.”

“What a carnival of idiots," Kilmeade said. "It’s unbelievable.”

“The land of misfit toys,” Earhardt agreed.