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CNN Live Event/Special
House Speaker Vote; Interview With Fmr. Rep. Rodney Davis (R- IL). Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired October 17, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): McCarthy.
REP. JAMES BAIRD (R-IN): Jordan.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: There it is. That was Congressman Don Bacon, Republican of Nebraska, as anticipated, not voting present, voting for Kevin McCarthy. That is not what Jim Jordan and the Jordan forces wanted him to do.
They wanted him to vote present, but, instead, he voted for McCarthy. So that is essentially a no-vote on Jordan. The next vote that we're going to be dipping in for will be Congressman Ken Buck, another nay on Jordan, his issue also different, Kasie Hunt, again, not a moderate against Jordan, Ken Buck, a very conservative Republican from Colorado.
His issue is...
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: Elections and whether or not Joe Biden actually won the election fair and square.
Big picture, Jake, I just think we are watching the formal installation of Donald Trump -- And there have been so many ways in which this has happened, but this is kind of a moment that's crystallizing it for me -- as the current singular entity representing the Republican Party.
This is an institution whose glass doors were broken. There were gunshots fired outside this chamber. These members had to evacuate in gas masks on January 6 of 2021 when a pro-Trump mob stormed the place.
And as we were discussing before, Jim Jordan was -- and Jamie has reported about his involvement in that. They are now moving to install him as the speaker of the House. And it is these more moderate, not in ideology, but in temperament, members of the Republican Conference who have been...
TAPPER: Fact-based, fact-based.
HUNT: But they have been rolled time and time and time again over the course of the last five years.
I mean, I started covering the Trump administration Capitol Hill in 2017 asking Republicans, when were they going to speak up? And they never spoke up?
TAPPER: Remember, Congresswoman...
HUNT: And here we are today.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Ann Wagner, who was one of these fact-based Republicans, who on Thursday when asked about Jim Jordan said, hell no. And then Monday she said she'd go along.
TAPPER: Let's listen. And we're going to listen to on Ken Buck.
REP. JOSH BRECHEEN (R-OK): Jordan.
REP. SHONTEL BROWN (D-OH): Jeffries.
REP. JULIA BROWNLEY (D-CA): Jeffries.
REP. VERN BUCHANAN (R-FL): Jordan.
REP. LARRY BUCSHON (R-IN): Jordan.
REP. NIKKI BUDZINSKI (D-IL): Jeffries.
TAPPER: OK. So Congressman Buck did not vote, but he will come back and vote, no doubt.
Let's go to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, who has some new reporting -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Well, Jake, I think that Ken Buck, asking for his vote and him not being there, is an example of some of what we have been talking about these sort of parlor games that go on with these relationships that do exist even between, say, a Jim Jordan and Ken Buck.
They have been members of the Freedom Caucus together for quite some time. So we will see if others do the same, but he's waiting, clearly. It's not as if he's not around. He's waiting clearly, to see how it goes. And then potentially is one of those who could potentially have a conversation.
I'm not suggesting that he is going to be a yes, necessarily. But the fact that he didn't vote at that time, gives you a sense of some of the really intense behind-the-scenes conversations that are happening, and now on the floor conversations, quiet conversations, that are happening as this vote goes.
And we do not know how it will end. Jim Jordan doesn't know how it will end.
REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT (D-PA): Jeffries.
REP. GREG CASAR (D-TX): Jeffries.
TAPPER: The next one we're listening for is Congresswoman Chavez- Deremer from Oregon. She represents a district that President Biden won by nine points. Let's listen in.
Castro of Texas.
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Jeffries.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Chavez-Deremer of Oregon representing a district that President Biden won by nine points voted for McCarthy.
That is basically two votes against Jordan. He can only afford to lose one more. Let's see what else happens. We have a few more votes before there is somebody that we anticipate will be a potential problem for Congressman Jim Jordan.
But, David, so far, if I were Jim Jordan, I would not be feeling good, because we are only in the C's, and, already,he has two votes against him. And Congressman Buck has not even voted yet. And he's a pretty firm no.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think we're waiting upcoming a couple of congressman from Florida, Diaz-Balart and Gimenez, battleground districts.
TAPPER: And McCarthy allies.
CHALIAN: And McCarthy allies.
And so, as you noted, with the Oregon district, I mean, obviously, politics plays a role here. And now we know part of the pressure campaign on these Republicans to get on board as this fear that was being intimated to them of a primary challenge if you're not on board, because Jordan is such a hero of the right, of the MAGA crowd, of the dominant force, quite frankly, in the Republican Party.
And so that notion of a primary challenge could cause some fear. The reality is, though, think about that. If a primary challenge is successful from the right in some of these battleground districts, those districts are at risk falling to Democrats next November. And you have got such a slim majority, that it could hand the House majority to the Democrats.
And so I know that long-term thinking is not the calculus today for many of these Republicans on the floor, but certainly for some of these Republicans on the floor, it's the calculus.
TAPPER: Let's go to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
Manu, what are you seeing where you are?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. In fact, we're told by our colleague Harry Talbott (ph), who is in the chamber, that Ken Buck was actually not in the chamber on the floor when they called his name here.
And one reason why perhaps is that what a lot of members have been calculating about as they have been weighing whether to vote no, they don't want to be the decisive vote. None of these members are indicating to the perhaps, Jake, that they could be no at the end of the roll call.
Davids of Kansas.
REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): Jeffries.
REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R-OH): Jordan.
Davis of Illinois.
REP. DANNY DAVIS (D-IL): Hakeem Jeffries.
Davis of North Carolina.
TAPPER: So, the next -- the next one we're really listening in for is Congressman Anthony D'Esposito, Republican of New York. He, last time we checked with him, was undecided.
He is in a district that President Biden won by 15 points. He's the Republican in the most Biden-friendly district. And then right after him because comes Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, who is in a strong Trump district, but he's a no.
So let's listen in. They're both coming right up.
REP. MARK DESAULNIER (D-CA): Jeffries.
REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS (R-TN): Jordan.
REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): Lee Zeldin.
REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R-FL): Scalise. TAPPER: So, with that vote for Steve Scalise from Congressman Mario
Diaz-Balart from Florida and the unusual vote from Congressman Anthony D'Esposito from New York for former Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York, who ran and lost a race for governor, that is four House Republican votes against Jim Jordan, which means Jim Jordan will not win the speakership on this vote.
Now, whether that means -- unless they change their votes, which will mean, again, unless they change their votes, that he will not win the speakership. Now, whether he wins in a subsequent vote could happen. That's what happened with McCarthy.
It also could happen, as with happened with Steve Scalise behind closed doors, that he could find his votes eroding. There are still other votes to pay attention to, including Jake Ellzey. And this vote is not over yet.
And we will see how big the margin of defeat ultimately is, five votes now against Jordan. What was the one I missed. Was that Jake Ellzey. What was...
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I didn't hear.
TAPPER: I was...
KING: Alphabetically, that's in there, yes.
TAPPER: In any case, let's continue to watch.
But that's already five against, when he can only afford to lose three.
CHALIAN: We should also just watch that whole present thing you heard Manu talking about at the back, if, indeed, they change the math here.
So this is obviously two more, Jake. He's lost two more votes than he can afford to lose here, if indeed everyone who's there today and took attendance that they were there is voting in this process, but we will see if that magic number changes and if some later folks end up voting present, if we see that strategy coming to fruition for the Jordan folks.
TAPPER: But John King, I mean, this was basically Jim Jordan, who is the one who brought this to the floor and forced it to the floor, I want a vote. This was basically his -- remember, Kevin McCarthy, when Matt Gaetz said, I'm going to -- I'm going to do a vote motion to vacate.
And I think I'm quoting him correctly that Kevin McCarthy said, "Bring it on." Is that what he said, bring it on? And he done got brought on, and he lost. And this was Jim Jordan doing the same thing. Steve Scalise did not bring it to the floor. KING: because Steve Scalise didn't want to have to do what Kevin
McCarthy did, which was keep negotiating away your power, keep cutting deals that give away every piece of leverage, every power every voice of authority you have as the -- quote, unquote -- "CEO," the speaker of the Republican Conference.
Also important to note, this person is third in line to the presidency. This is a constitutional officer. This is not just the leader of House Republicans, whether you're Democrat or independent or Republican watching in the country or around the world.
This is a constitutional officer, third in line to the presidency, but -- so that -- the size of that five, the others, the size of that at the end is significant, because how many people does Jim Jordan have to negotiate with, right?
We have heard one member wants him to come out publicly, strongly say, Joe Biden won the election, Donald Trump lost, and he should stop making that case. Others want a commitment for money for Ukraine. Others want a public commitment to for an aid package to Israel, which won't be a problem with the Republicans.
TAPPER: Let's listen in, let's listen in, because we have got Matt Gaetz coming up.
REP. RUSS FULCHER (R-ID): Jordan.
GAETZ: Jim Jordan.
There are a couple others I want to hear in the -- just I the next minute, Andrew Garbarino and Carlos Gimenez. Both of them are coming up in the next minute. So, let's just listen in.
REP. ANDREW GARBARINO (R-NY): Zeldin.
TAPPER: Zeldin for Garbarino. That's six against Jordan so far from House Republicans.
CLERK: Mike Garcia.
REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-CA): Jordan.
REP. ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA): Jeffries.
Garcia of Illinois.
REP. JESUS GARCIA (D-IL): Jeffries.
Garcia of Texas.
REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): Jeffries.
REP. CARLOS GIMENEZ (R-FL): McCarthy.
TAPPER: OK, John King, I'm sorry.
But that's seven House Republicans.
KING: And so if you have to get that number to two, if everybody keeps voting, and Jim Jordan has to get the number, not voting for him to two, as you know, can he negotiate? Does he have the leverage to negotiate?
How many times is he willing to take the hit? Kevin McCarthy, frankly, forgive me, humiliated himself for staying out there and out there and out there and finally wore them down by cutting deals. The fact that we're having this vote today is because he cut those deals.
He gave so much leverage to the rank and file that he was not an effective leader. So, can Jim Jordan get himself in the McCarthy box and negotiate his way to that gavel? Now it's up to eight. If the answer is yes -- and that's a big if, capital I, capital F, boldface it and underline -- if, what does he have to give up to get there?
And much power or authority does he have? But he called for this vote. This was his idea. This was his play, under the idea that I'm going to lose the first one and then I'm going to some -- I'm going to win them over.
KING: I'm going to -- yes, I'm going to wear them down. So we will take -- a speaker has to run the House. A speaker has to be a legislative tactician.
This is Jim Jordan's strategy and tactic. We will see if he's any good at it. TAPPER: Who was the eighth? Who was the eighth that...
HUNT: Scalise. Tony Gonzales.
TAPPER: Tony Gonzales from Texas.
HUNT: Who voted for Scalise.
TAPPER: He voted for Scalise. So that was one that we weren't even looking for.
I mean, look, I think that the key potential difference here and what I'm watching to see as they decide what to do next here is that these nine so far are not nihilists, the way that Matt Gaetz and company were willing to essentially take the entire -- I mean, they have created a situation that, let's remind ourselves, is unprecedented in American history.
This is now two weeks without a speaker of the United States House because the party that runs the House took out one of their own. And the fact that those people were willing to do that speaks volumes about the way that the Republican Party has been pulled towards them in recent years, because Jim Jordan, when he first got there, was called the legislative terrorists by John Boehner, because he was willing to go green very much not that far.
And those people followed in the mold. The reality is, I don't think these nine, like, they are people to want to govern the country. And they need a speaker to govern the country.
TAPPER: I just want to bring in -- David, I will come back to you in one second, but I want to bring in a couple of former Republican members of the House, if I can, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger, just to get their take on this, because, frankly, I'm a little surprised at the depth of the votes against.
This is a higher number than I thought we were going to get. Tony Gonzales and Kay Granger voting against Jordan, I did not anticipate.
frankly, I like being surprised. It's always -- it's this is one -- one of the reasons we went into journalism, to be surprised.
Let me start with you, Congressman -- former Congressman Rodney Davis.
Are you surprised at the number that we have so far, nine votes against Jordan? And I think we're just in the J's, and we know we have more to come.
FMR. REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): No, I am surprised.
TAPPER: Oh, we're in H's. I'm sorry, H's.
DAVIS: I am surprised. I didn't think this many people would vote against him during the first round. I thought it would be an easy vote for many of my former colleagues to be able to appease the far right in their districts and say, hey, we supported Jim during this round, but all bets are off in future rounds.
But I think you're going to see somewhat of a more cascading effect. Members of Congress can count, and they realize that he's not going to be speaker in this round. And I think, frankly, he's got one more round to try and garner -- to gather up the votes. And then I think all bets are off on who's going to be nominated next.
TAPPER: Congressman Kinzinger, what's your take?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's the same as Rodney's.
Basically, look, I -- once they hit three, then I think a lot of these people that were staying quiet got permission to go no. I know at least there's one more that's going to be a know very likely, Steve Womack of Arkansas, and probably others in there.
I'm surprised by this number. But I can tell you I heard a lot of names of my former colleagues that said Jordan after their name was called that I know feel dirty inside for it and are now very jealous of these nine who had the courage of their convictions.
But all, this whole thing, Jake, is about getting people on the record, so they can now go to FOX News and pressure them as hard as they can. I don't think he gives up on the second round unless he starts losing more. The pressure is going to get intense. And that's how they always play.
TAPPER: All right, let's listen in.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Hakeem Jeffries.
REP. SARA JACOBS (D-CA): Jeffries.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Hakeem Jeffries. CLERK: Jeffries.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Jeffries.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLERK: Johnson of Georgia.
REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): Jeffries.
Johnson of Louisiana.
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Jordan.
Johnson of Ohio.
REP. BILL JOHNSON (R-OH): Jordan.
Johnson of South Dakota.
REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Jordan.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Jordan.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Joyce of Ohio. Joyce of Ohio.
Joyce of Pennsylvania.
REP. JOHN JOYCE (R-PA): Jim Jordan.
REP. SYDNEY KAMLAGER (D-CA): Hakeem Jeffries.
TAPPER: All right, we continue to watch the vote. And if votes continue as they are and everybody stays where they are, Congressman Jim Jordan will not secure the speakership on this vote.
People do change their votes sometimes. We will see what happens. Congressman Tom Kean of New Jersey just voted for Jim Jordan. That is one of the Biden districts, and he is a moderate. So that is a victory of sorts for Congressman Jordan in his aspiring speakership, but it will not be enough, at least not as of right now.
Let's go to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill with the latest -- Dana.
BASH: Jake, I just want to underscore something that you just heard, we all just heard from former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, which is why that others number keeps climbing.
And it is largely because, once it was clear that Jim Jordan would not get the votes on this first round, some members, some vulnerable members, some angry members are taking -- it goes up to 11 now -- are taking what they call up here free votes, meaning they know that their vote does not have a consequence at this point when it comes to whether or not Jim Jordan will be speaker.
So, they are trying to make political calculations.
Kim of New Jersey.
REP. ANDY KIM (D-NJ): Jeffries.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Jeffries.
REP. ANNIE KUSTER (D-NH): Hakeem Jeffries.
REP. DAVID KUSTOFF (R-TN): Jim Jordan.
REP. DARIN LAHOOD (R-IL): Jordan.
REP. NICHOLAS LALOTA (R-NY): Lee Zeldin.
BASH: So as we continue to listen to these votes, I think that's an important thing to keep in mind.
The other thing I just wanted to add is, I was just told by somebody who is helping Jim Jordan that some of these -- again, these free votes, these votes that are climbing on the others column, the 12 column, do intend to support Jim Jordan on the second round.
The question, of course, is whether there will be enough, whether there will be enough of them. And we are continuing to look at this list of 18 Republicans in Biden-won districts to see how they are going to go and how they calculate whether they vote for somebody who they maybe don't agree with on many things.
REP. BOB LATTA (R-OH): Jordan.
REP. JAKE LATURNER (R-KS): Jordan.
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Lee of California.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Hakeem Jeffries.
Lee of Florida.
Lee of Nevada.
Jeffries. Lee of Pennsylvania.
TAPPER: Who was the vote -- who was 13? Who voted?
REP. MIKE LEVIN (D-CA): Hakeem Jeffries.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Hakeem Jeffries.
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): Jim Jordan.
REP. ANNA PAULINA LUNA (R-FL): Jim Jordan.
REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA): Hakeem Jeffries.
BASH: As we continue to listen to this roll call vote and know that it looks like the outcome is clear, although we should emphasize that any of these members can change their votes.
And it is very, very possible, if you think about what we saw back in January during the vote for Jim -- for Mike -- excuse me -- for Kevin McCarthy.
I want to -- let's listen to Kevin McCarthy's vote.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Jordan.
BASH: Significant moment there, Kevin McCarthy, putting his vote in for Jim Jordan.
I want to talk to my experts here.
And Doug Heye, I want to start with you, because, again, you were somebody who worked for House Republican leadership. As you see these votes, and now it's up to 13 voting for somebody other than Jim Jordan, what does that tell you?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It tells me that he's not getting through in this ballot. And it tells me that we're going to see Republicans at some point today going to a room called H.C.5, which does not sound very glamorous. It's not very glamorous.
BASH: It's not.
HEYE: It's a meeting room in the basement, and that's where the Republican Conference meets.
And this is where Scalise will have the opportunity and, indeed, the need to press those members to vote...
HEYE: Excuse me, Jordan, to press those members who voted against him.
They're going to hear from their constituents. They're going to hear from conservative leaders. But they're also going to hear in that room. And that's going to determine, if vote two happens, does he get more members or less members, which will tell us how the rest of it goes.
BASH: I want to bring in David Axelrod, who is also with us.
David, what are your thoughts?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I have been listening to this conversation, from the beginning about how this could be that a guy who voted -- a guy who was an election denier and has the history of Jordan could be so close to the speakership.
He may not get there, it appears. And the answer is, this is the Republican Party data. This is the party that Donald Trump is the runaway front-runner in for president of the United States; 70 percent of the Republican voters are also election deniers and believe that there was something amiss in the last election.
So he really reflects the base of the party. And that's point number one. Point number two is, the first principle for most legislators -- and I love Adam Kinzinger, because he was willing to do his duty, and he put it ahead of his own political well-being. That is unusual. There's a reason why that book "Profiles in Courage" was a slim volume, OK?
That's not what politicians do. They first calculate what they need to do to remain practicing politicians and get reelected. And so the pressure campaign, while it may not succeed for Jordan, has been pretty effective; 55 people were against them going into the weekend, and you have got Moulton, a little more than a dozen now.
Now, he may not get there. And as Kasie Hunt mentioned before, there are members -- there are members there who are institutionalists. There are members that are who really are moderates and care very much about the appearance of what's going on now and the reality that the House can't function.
I wouldn't be surprised, if Jordan can't put this together in the next few ballots, that there's going to be a move to get the House open BY perhaps giving more authority to the speaker pro tem, because I think those people know it can't go on, and the Republicans can't seem to agree on anyone.
McHenry is -- Patrick McHenry is broadly popular. It wouldn't shock me if that happened here. But, as to the first part, Jim Jordan is the face of the Republican Party as the Republican Party exists today.
BASH: Scott Jennings, Jim Jordan, the face of the Republican Party, of your party? SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean,
literally, he's the face of it. He's on FOX News every night.
BASH: Well, but...
JENNINGS: I mean, if you consider -- but think of -- I mean, if you consider that the people who are on TV the most, the people that Republican grassroots hear from the most, who is it?
They hear from Donald Trump. They hear from Jim Jordan, I mean, those two guys far and away.
BASH: It used to be that those kind of Republicans didn't even get close to the speaker's chair, much less within inches of the gavel.
And that's what we have right now. In this round, no, it's not going to happen. But it might happen in the next round, or the next round after that.
JENNINGS: Yes, as a strategic matter, what I'm interested in is whether Jordan moves for an immediate second ballot to see if some of those people peel off and get down to the actual number of holdouts.
So is it somewhere south of 10, say? And then when does he actually feel like he has to go into a conference room, as Doug was talking about, and sort it out with those people? So I -- this is more than I would have thought.
And a question -- and what a couple of members have said to me, this is more than they would have thought already. And so are these people real? Or are they going to -- are they going to -- is this just a one- round protest? That's the math question I have.
BASH: I just want to bring in Lauren Fox, who, Lauren, I know, you have been talking to your sources about the dynamic here, which is important to underscore, because the last time we saw something like this was in January.
Kevin McCarthy was trying to woo the hard-line conservatives or the never-Kevins or whatever you want to call them. The dynamic that is happening right now, what Jim Jordan is trying to do is convince so- called moderate Republicans, even though many of them are really conservative, but Republicans who are from Biden-won districts, swing districts to support him.
What are you hearing about how those conversations have gone, given that 13 that we see there?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, one of the things that Jim Jordan really tried to do was come out with a plan for how he was going to deal with the government spending deadline that was coming up on November 17.
He walked into the conference a couple of weeks ago and made it clear that he wanted to basically leverage a expected 1 percent cut that will go into effect in April to try and get some negotiations with the White House to cut spending.