No sooner had former President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio for House speaker than Jordan lost his bid for the nomination to his chief rival for the gavel. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana edged out Jordan in House Republicans’ closed-door vote on Wednesday, though his nomination remains imperiled.
Trump is now using the flux to beat down Scalise by any means possible, including Scalise’s cancer diagnosis in August. Talking to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on his radio show, Trump said Scalise was in “serious trouble” from a health standpoint.
“I mean, he’s got to get better for himself,” Trump said in the interview released Thursday. “I’m not talking about even country now. I’m saying got to get better. And this is tremendous stress. All of the things that you hear about, and things that you don’t want to get involved in from the standpoint of getting well.”
Trump ripped a sheet from the playbook of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has shamelessly turned Scalise’s diagnosis against him. “I like Steve Scalise, and I like him so much that I want to see him defeat cancer more than sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress,” Greene tweeted Wednesday, announcing that she had voted for Jordan as speaker.
“We need a Speaker who is able to put their full efforts into defeating the communist democrats and save America,” Greene added.
Rep. Chip Roy of Texas piled on, suggesting cancer was the biggest hurdle to Scalise clinching the nomination.
“It is a concern for a lot of members. It is part of the reason why I think he’s having trouble getting to 217,” Roy told right-wing radio host Glenn Beck.
With friends like that, who needs enemies?