Former President Donald Trump has taken an unexpected and measured approach by declining to support Rep. Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) nomination for the position of House Speaker, citing concerns about Scalise’s health. Despite Trump’s prior endorsement of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as a successor to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Scalise secured the GOP nomination for the role following the House Republican Conference vote. Questions remain about whether Scalise can garner enough votes to become the Speaker, with ongoing concerns about his health as he undergoes treatment for blood cancer.
In a radio interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade on Thursday, Trump expressed his fondness for both Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise but raised concerns about Scalise’s candidacy due to his health. Trump repeatedly emphasized the physical toll of the role of House Speaker, particularly given Scalise’s ongoing battle with cancer.
Trump stated, “He’s got to get better for himself. I’m not talking about even the country now. I’m saying he’s got to get better. And this is tremendous stress. All of the things that you hear about and, you know, things that you don’t want to get involved in from the standpoint of getting…Well, Steve is going through very, very serious cancer therapy. And, of course, then he had that horrible attack years ago that, you know, it was amazing that he came back. I went to the hospital. I was with him the night it happened. I was literally with him, holding his hand. And I was there the night that it happened that the doctors gave him probably a 10 percent chance that he made it. But there’s tremendous after effects there. But he’s got a very serious form of cancer. And, you know, most importantly, I want Steve to get well, I just don’t know how you can do the job when you have — that’s a serious problem.”
Kilmeade pressed Trump to confirm if Scalise’s health was the primary reason behind his endorsement of Jim Jordan, but Trump did not provide a direct answer, instead reiterating his concern for Scalise’s ability to handle the challenges of the role. Trump acknowledged the need for strength both inside and outside to counter opposition from the “radical left” and expressed his liking for both Jordan and Scalise.
The interview suggested that Trump had reservations about Scalise’s ability to fulfill the duties of House Speaker due to health concerns but refrained from confirming whether that was the sole reason for his support of Jim Jordan. Trump expressed his readiness to support any candidate chosen and emphasized the importance of Scalise’s recovery and strength.