An hour after a bearded man named Grizzly Joe opened the day’s proceedings with the Pledge of Allegiance, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan took the stage at CPAC to decry socialism and an alleged coup against the president.
Jordan, a Republican from Urbana who represents a swath of northern Ohio, was a featured guest at the Conservative Political Action Conference Conference near Washington, D.C. Jordan appeared with a close ally in Congress, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, in a 20-minute discussion moderated by lobbyist Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union. Jordan and Meadows are CPAC veterans, this year appearing in an early morning slot on day two of the four-day event.
“We started early this year,” Schlapp began. “You know why? Because they’ve been torturing us for 3 1/2 years, we had to get started early.”
Schlapp then asked if Meadows has gotten tortured over the past 3 1/2 years. The crowd, silent to this point, doesn’t seem to follow the joke.
Meadows sidestepped the question and instead faced out toward the audience.
“We’re fully engaged here this morning, are we not?” he said to applause. “Are you ready to re-elect Donald J. Trump as the president in November?”
Meadows then offered some morning humor.
“I think this is the first time I’m ever to the right of Jim Jordan,” he said, ruining the bit somewhat by pointing to the crowd and explaining the joke: “(Jordan) is to their left, but I’m to his right.”
Schlapp asked Jordan about his experience with the recent impeachment hearings in Congress. Jordan is the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Jordan said the main lesson to take away from the impeachment effort is that “they’re never going to stop.” Jordan does not exactly clarify who “they” is, but goes on to reference various opponents of the president.
He mentions together Democratic legislators’ impeachment work and the alleged spying into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. (Several news outlets, including the Washington Post and New York Times, have reported that the FBI used an informant to investigate possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Jordan conflates this with Democratic legislators’ effort to impeach the president in 2019 and early 2020.)
Meadows told of he and Jordan’s efforts to defend the president over the past few years.
“We’re like the energizer bunnies,” he said.
Schlapp then complained that no one from President Barack Obama’s administration served jail time, a fact he attributed to an unfair playing field where only conservative wrongdoing is punished.
“I think that’s a cautionary tale on any conservative that wants to get in government,” he said, turning to Jordan. “So why the heck are you doing this for a living?”
“Well, there are days you wonder,” Jordan responded. “But, it’s worth it. It’s the greatest country ever.”
Meadows went on to mention Jordan’s career as a wrestler at Ohio State University in the 1990s.
“The president calls (Jordan) 128-and-1 … that was his, according to the president, his wrestling record,” Meadows said.
Jordan doesn’t correct him, but the Ohio representative’s Congressional website puts the actual record as being 150-1.
“You know what the president asks about that?” Meadows continued. “He says, ‘can you imagine how tough that one guy was.’ And we need to be as tough as that one guy who took down Jim Jordan when it comes to fighting back on all of this.”
Those on stage did not mention that Jordan has been accused by multiple former Ohio State University wrestlers of having covered up his knowledge about allegations of sexual abuse by a coach in the 1990s. Jordan has denied the claims.
Schlapp spoke at length about the theme of the 2020 convention, “America vs. Socialism.” Meadows used North and South Korea as an example of why Americans should ward off socialism in this country.
“One that’s free, and one that’s not,” Meadows said of the two Koreas. “The 9th largest economy versus the 125th economy … what is the one thing that separates them that makes it from the 9th best economy in the world to the 125th? Freedom.”
Unmentioned on stage is that Trump has heaped praise on the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, even saying in 2018 that the two “fell in love.”
“I think your country has tremendous economic potential,” Trump told the dictator as the two met in 2019.
The discussion concluded with talk of Meadows’ impending retirement from Congress. Meadows is not running for reelection and has discussed with Trump the possibility of working for the president should he earn another term.
Schlapp noted that Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November would give Jordan a chance to become a committee chairman.
“There’s just a chance that Jim Jordan gets a gavel again,” Schlapp said.
“We hope so,” the Ohioan replied.