In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) shared more details about his decision to challenge Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the Speakership, citing a long list of broken promises and his worries about a third party splitting the conservative vote as inspiring his determination to oust Boehner.
As Breitbart Texas reported earlier, Gohmert announced on Fox & Friends early Sunday morning that he would be challenging Boehner for Speaker, in a vote that will take place this Tuesday, January 6th. Gohmert reemphasized what he said this morning, that what had inspired him to take this step was conversations he had had with other Members. He kept hearing, repeatedly, that his fellow Republicans were frustrated with Boehner but did not see anyone stepping forward to run. Without an alternative, they did not believe there was a realistic way to remove Boehner. Now Gohmert has stepped forward, as well as Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida), a veterinarian from Gainesville who is beginning his second term in office this month. Gohmert believed that there “may be more” who step forward, but did not name any specific names.
He was insistent that this effort was not about any one person. In fact, he made numerous comments indicating that he cares less if he gets the job or someone else, as long as Boehner is removed. “It should be clear, this isn’t about a person, it’s about keeping the status quo or changing,” said Gohmert. “This is not about me, or Ted Yoho, or anyone else.”
On the issue of “anyone but Boehner,” Gohmert mentioned that some have voiced concerns that a split in the Republican votes could lead to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi being able to get enough votes from a presumably unified Democrat coalition that she could be reelected Speaker. As Breitbart Texas reported, House rules allow the Republicans to control the procedure, and as long as the Republicans vote for a living American adult for Speaker, they will be able to continue the voting process until they agree on a Speaker. The only way the Republicans would lose that power is if Republicans turn in ballots marked “present,” and not a person’s name.
To clarify one issue: while it is true that technically the Speaker does not have to be a current or even former Member of Congress, that has not happened and considering the uneasiness Members have voiced about replacing the Speaker with someone less experienced, the likelihood a majority of House Republicans would back someone outside their ranks is considered extraordinarily unlikely.
Gohmert described the “tremendous amount of encouragement from around the country” that he had received since making his announcement. The Congressman has long had a positive relationship with conservative grassroots activists, and launched his own PAC, GOH Conservative PAC, last year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). In contrast to many other PACs established by members of Congress, Gohmert has not expressed any presidential ambitions. According to John LaRosa of Four Tier Strategies, one of the consultants who helped Gohmert launch the PAC, “the mission of Congressman Gohmert’s GOH Conservative PAC is to recruit, vet and support solid conservative candidates across the country. During the 2014 cycle, he was able to help several great candidates (including one of my personal favorites, Dan Bongino), and our goal is to raise much more money in 2015 so he can support many more candidates in the 2016 cycle.”
One intriguing wrinkle to the mention of Dan Bongino, who came tantalizingly close to winning a Congressional race in Maryland, is that he was unable to get significant support from the NRCC or other official party fundraising operations. A consultant who worked on Republican congressional campaigns last election cycle but did not want to be named told Breitbart Texas that Bongino could not get financial support because it was believed that he would be unlikely to support Boehner or his designated successor.
Gohmert told Breitbart Texas that he had also talked to several other House Republicans in the past few hours. A number were cautiously optimistic, but were “struggling” with their decisions, especially those that held chairmanships or hoped for one. Gohmert acknowledged that it would be a “bold move” for them to step forward and vote against Boehner, but that he believed that the frustration levels were high enough and the time was right for this to happen.
As Gohmert said in his Fox & Friends interview, a major driving force behind his efforts to oust Boehner are the “broken promises” from the Speaker, and he elaborated more on these issues with Breitbart Texas. According to Gohmert, these broken promises include:
- Promising to “fight tooth and nail” against Obama’s executive amnesty orders, but then allowing the CRomnibus bill to proceed forward with it still being funded;
- Promising every debt ceiling increase would be paired with a spending cut, but that has not happened;
- Promising Members would have time to properly read bills, then allowing only a three day period, which in reality was actually only two days;
- Promising a regular order of bills through committees, but bills keep coming to the floor without having followed that process;
- Promising that sequestrations would not happen, but then later declaring that they were necessary;
- Promising he would only serve one term as Speaker when he first ran; and
- Promising to have more transparent and open Speakership than Pelosi, who would not allow amendments, but instead running what Gohmert dubbed “the most closed Speakership in the history of the country.”
Regarding Boehner’s broken promise to only serve one term, Gohmert was especially frustrated. “It’s become clear he’s not going to leave the Speakership until he’s forced out.” Regarding Breitbart Texas‘ report that Boehner had wanted and expected Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) to succeed him as Speaker until Cantor lost his primary, Gohmert neither confirmed nor denied that he had heard that plan, simply saying that “there are all kinds of rumors,” which may or may not be true, but he was just focused on making sure that Boehner did get out now.
“We need leadership we can trust, and show the American people that we got their message and can change … it’s time we started doing what we promised when we got the majority [in the House in 2010],” Gohmert told Breitbart Texas, but Boehner’s many broken promises had destroyed that trust. Gohmert has been hearing increasing chatter from conservative activists around the country about third parties. “We need to pull this party together, but, you know, the broken promises in 2012 caused millions of Republicans and Independents to stay home,” said Gohmert.
Many of the “most ardent Independents” are conservatives, he continued, but are not registered Republicans. If millions of them again stay home in 2016, it will be a “disaster” for America. “We’ve got to try to salvage things,” said Gohmert, “People all across America are demanding change,” and the threat of a third party “is tremendous…if we don’t recognize that, we’re going to destroy our chances in 2016.”
In response to some other Congressional Republicans’ worries that a divisive fight over the Speaker’s race could damage the GOP’s chances in 2016, Gohmert rejected that argument outright. “We saw what happens when you have a nasty fight,” said Gohmert, citing the 2008 Democratic primary fight between Obama and Hillary Clinton. “Nothing could have been nastier, but after it was settled…then you win the White House.” In Gohmert’s view, this battle for the Speakership will be a positive development for the GOP: “We will actually bring more supporters to the Republican party when they see that we are really trying to be honest and clean things up, and have people in the position of leaders.”
When asked about the upcoming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill, Gohmert was openly skeptical that any language in that bill would be able to successfully block Obama’s executive amnesty action. “It’s not a good strategy,” he said directly, because Obama can “easily veto” that bill, and then blame Republicans for a wide open border without Border Patrol because Republicans would not fund them.
“You should never take a hostage that the other side wants you to shoot,” said Gohmert, arguing that the President prefers lowered border security and enforcement, so this particular threat would lack teeth.
Breitbart Texas asked Gohmert what, then, he believes will be the best strategy for actually blocking funding for Obama’s executive amnesty, if there is one. Gohmert replied that, “You won’t block it until it’s something that the President deeply cares about,” and nothing less could possibly work. “We’re going to have to decide what we want to take hostage,” he added, “use whatever it takes,” and then immediately work on getting appropriations bills passed, which can happen now that Republicans have a majority in the Senate as well, and absolutely no more continuing resolutions.
If Boehner is re-elected Speaker, Gohmert was pessimistic about whether he would be able to make any positive changes in his leadership style or legislating strategy, as some have hoped. “We’ll see amnesty unstopped, and Obamacare get bigger and be unstopped, and inadequate oversight of the executive branch,” he gloomily predicted. According to Gohmert, two years ago, Boehner had been “within hours” of losing the Speakership. There had been 21 Members “who had committed in writing” to vote for someone else as of the evening before the vote. By the morning of the vote, that number had shrunk to 19, and Boehner’s people had just barely persuaded enough of them to change their votes. Gohmert had hoped that that close call would have changed Boehner’s behavior, but it did not. “I don’t expect a tough race this time to change that either,” he said. “In fact, [if he wins] it will be a rubber stamp for business as usual.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.