A lot of tongues started wagging after Rep Jim Jordan departed a chaotic three-hour closed-door House Republican Conference meeting on Thursday gripping a mysterious piece of paper.
The right-wing Ohio congressman was pictured by Reuters photojournalist Leah Millis holding a note covered with scribbles as he left the meeting, in which he vowed to drop out of the Speaker race and empower Rep Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, who has served as a mostly powerless interim speaker since a group of hardline conservatives forced the ouster of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.
It came after Mr Jordan lost two consecutive votes for the position on Tuesday and Wednesday.
One of the scribbles on the note could be clearly read in photos: “What is the real reason?” it said. It is unclear what the note was referring to.
After the meeting, Mr Jordan backtracked on his plan to drop out of the race, telling reporters that the plan to empower Mr McHenry “wasn’t where we’re going to go.
“I’m still running for speaker,” he added, “and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race. I want to talk with my colleagues, particularly the 20 individuals who voted against me, so we can move forward and begin to work for the American people.”
He is expected to make a third bid on Friday, running against House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, but still needs to convince 22 GOP lawmakers who voted against him to adjust their choice.
Mr Jordan was nominated as the GOP’s candidate for speaker after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise removed himself from the running despite the fact he beat the Ohio representative in a vote within the GOP conference.
A founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, Mr Jordan previously ground the House of Representatives to a halt when he helped shut down the government in 2013. He also played a key role in former president Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
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