URBANA (AP) — Back home in Ohio, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s leading role in the House Republican rebellion against a GOP bill to replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is viewed largely as a vote for the average Joe.
“I’m really happy with his decision because there’s so many Americans going without health care due to the Obamacare, it needs to be revamped,” said 31-year-old Social Security recipient David Ball as he sat in the heart of Jordan’s district Monday. “I’m very proud of Jim Jordan.”
Like most of Jordan’s constituents, Ball supported President Donald Trump. Jordan’s congressional district lies in the sweeping flat farm country of western Ohio, where voting Republican is a way of life.
But when it comes to GOP in-fighting, lifelong Republicans here mostly stand by their local son.
“He’s our hometown boy. He seems to be for the people,” said 70-year-old Jenny Thackery, a retired geriatric nurse who cared for Jordan’s in-laws. “I don’t agree with everything he does. But he’s logical in his thinking, and he seems to be thinking about the guys who are struggling.”
President Trump trained his fire on members of his own party Thursday, declaring in the aftermath of the Republican’s failed health care push that the conservative Freedom Caucus, led by Jordan, will hurt the entire GOP agenda. He vowed to “fight them” in 2018 if they don’t get behind him.
The earl-morning tweet from Trump highlighted the growing schism in a Republican party that controls the White House and both branches of Congress yet appears to be teetering on the precipice of a civil war. Republicans plunged into a blame game over the demise of the years-long push to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation, with members sniping at each other over how much they can work with Democrats — or even the White House.
Trump’s anger at the Freedom Caucus for posing as a stubborn impediment to his governing runs the risk of alienating the conservative base that fueled his rise during last year’s Republican primaries and has to this point remained loyal to the president.
With his poll numbers falling and his plans to move onto tax reform and a robust infrastructure program imperiled, Trump took to Twitter to attack the conservative group that many in the White House hold responsible for sabotaging last week’s health care vote.
“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump said.
But as the White House considered flexing its muscle against the Freedom Caucus, the group remained unbowed, with several members immediately hitting back against a president whose agenda has stalled, whose approval ratings are hovering below 40 percent and who has been dogged by the ongoing probe into contacts between his associates and Russian officials.
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Wednesday found that nationwide 62 percent disapprove of the way Trump is handling health care. That was his worst rating among seven issues the poll tested, including the economy, foreign policy and immigration.
The same poll found negative views of five of the six changes Republicans envisioned for the bill, including allowing insurers to charge older customers higher premiums than is now allowed, reduced funds for Medicaid and denying federal dollars to Planned Parenthood.
As she assembled chocolate-and-peanut butter Buckeyes at her brother-in-law’s downtown candy shop, Thackery said she still supports repealing and replacing the federal health care law and hopes Republicans in Washington find a way to come together.
At the local Frisch’s Big Boy, 69-year-old Chuck Siegenthaler said he was disappointed with Jordan and the other Republicans who didn’t support the bill.
“They should have initially passed this at the get-go,” said Siegenthaler, a retired factory worker. “Now it’s going to be how long. Nobody knows.”
The defeat is even more frustrating with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, he said.
“They need to work together. They had eight years to work on it and somebody’s not doing their job,” he said. “So they either need to work on it, or get out.”
Bill Anderson, a 74-year-old retiree and rare Democrat in the district, said he’s noticed local Republicans are less vocal as Trump’s presidency goes on.
“They’re pretty quiet,” Anderson said. “They were all Trumped up there for a while, but now they’re laying pretty low.”
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