Former president Donald Trump has officially backed Ohio representative Jim Jordan to succeed Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, after hinting that he might accept the role for himself “if necessary”.
“Congressman Jim Jordan has been a STAR long before making his very successful journey to Washington, DC, representing Ohio’s 4th Congressional District,” Mr Trump wrote on his Truth Social site.
“He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”
Before Mr Trump’s announcement, Texas representative Troy Nehls had already said on Thursday night that the former president had decided to back Mr Jordan‘s bid.
“Just had a great conversation with President Trump about the Speaker’s race. He is endorsing Jim Jordan, and I believe Congress should listen to the leader of our party,” Nehls wrote late Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The endorsement from Mr Trump comes as a deeply divided Republican party struggles to find a successor after the historic ousting of Mr McCarthy.
Mr Jordan confirmed on Wednesday morning that he is running for the role of speaker of the House after Mr McCarthy’s ousting.
As one of the staunchest members of the far-right, MAGA arm of the Republican party, Mr Jordan is known for founding the right-wing Freedom Caucus in 2015. He continues to serve as chairman of what has become known as the most right-wing caucus in the GOP party, with a record that includes trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act multiple times.
Following Mr Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election, Mr Jordan played a key role in efforts to overturn the results – and for the former president to stay in power against the will of the American people.
He has also admitted that he and Mr Trump spoke on the day of the January 6 Capitol riot – but refuses to reveal the nature of the calls.
Even faced with a subpoena, he refused to cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection and so many questions remain unanswered to this day about his actions on and around that day.
Despite his controversies, he has risen up the GOP ranks in recent years with Mr McCarthy making him chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee back in February.
Mr Jordan will face competition from Steve Scalise, who currently serves as House majority leader and also entered the race.
Amid several other names being floated, some GOP members loyal to Mr Trump, including Mr Nehls and Marjorie Taylor Greene, have called for the former president to take up the role himself.
Mr Trump has revelled in this proposal, resharing the calls for him to take the gavel and boasting that many lawmakers want him.
Just had a great conversation with President Trump about the Speaker’s race.— Congressman Troy E. Nehls (@RepTroyNehls) October 6, 2023
He is endorsing Jim Jordan, and I believe Congress should listen to the leader of our party.
I fully support Jim Jordan for Speaker of the House.
“I have been asked to speak as a unifier because I have so many friends in Congress,” Mr Trump told Fox News Digital. “If they don’t get the vote, they have asked me if I would consider taking the Speakership until they get somebody longer-term because I am running for president.
“They have asked me if I would take it for a short period of time for the party until they come to a conclusion – I’m not doing it because I want to – I will do it if necessary, should they not be able to make their decision,” the former president told the outlet.
He also suggested that he could travel to the US Capitol to help in the process – a visit that would mark his first time back there since the January 6 riot.
Under the rules of Congress, the speaker does not have to be a current sitting member in the House. That said, every speaker in the history of the US so far has been.
Mr Trump’s allies in the lower chamber have previously touted him as a possible candidate.
Back in January, when Mr McCarthy was struggling to get enough votes from his own party to secure his speakership, Mr Gaetz protested by casting his vote for Mr Trump.
In what marked a remarkable and historic day for the lower chamber of Congress, Mr McCarthy was ousted on Tuesday as speaker of the House less than nine months after he was elected in February.
Marjorie Taylor Greene takes a photo with Kevin McCarthy after he was elected Speaker of the House in February
In total, eight Republicans voted to remove him – joining all Democratic members of the House and culminating in a 216-210 vote to vacate.
The eight Republican breakouts were: Reps Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, Eli Crane, Bob Good, Nancy Mace, Matt Rosendale, and ringleader Mr Gaetz.
This marks the first time in American history that a speaker has been ousted by other lawmakers – and comes at a time of turmoil in the Republican party.
Mr Gaetz had called the vote in outrage that Mr McCarthy struck a deal with Democrats to avert a government shutdown that could have temporarily shuttered key services for American people and furloughed federal workers
Speaking at a press conference after his removal on Tuesday, Mr McCarthy said that he will not run for his old job again – and cast doubts on his future within the House of Representatives at all.
“It was personal,” he said of Mr Gaetz’s plot to oust him.
Now, while the party nominates new candidates, North Carolina Rep Patrick McHenry will preside as speaker pro tempore.
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