WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative leader in the House warned Republican Party officials on Thursday not to change the rules to allow someone other than Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz to grab the presidential nomination at the GOP convention.
"That would be just a huge mistake," said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who heads the House Freedom Caucus of about three dozen conservatives. "It would be completely wrong, any type of rigging, or a perception that the party hierarchy is trying to influence and change things so that the two guys at the top are denied the nomination."
In an interview for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program, Jordan said the results so far from the primary contests show that GOP voters want an anti-establishment candidate. He noted that Trump and Cruz have been gathering majorities between them, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich lags behind.
"This outsider, anti-establishment mood is really, really strong, and I think that's a reflection of why those two are the ones who are in first and second and Gov. Kasich, who I think has done a nice job as our governor, is a distant third," said Jordan.
He has not made an endorsement in the race but plans to attend the July convention in Cleveland.
Jordan pointed specifically to talk of changing an existing convention rule precluding anyone who hasn't won eight states from becoming the nominee. The rule as it stands would disqualify anyone other than Trump or Cruz, but that rule and others must be ratified anew by the convention's Rules Committee.
"You start doing things like that, it certainly creates a perception that 'Oh wait a minute, they're trying to change it,'" Jordan said. "Even if it's technically allowed then it does become potentially rigging the game."
Jordan's comments reflect the divide in the Republican Party that's roiled the presidential race and continues to impede business in the House itself, where Freedom Caucus opposition is preventing Republican leaders from meeting a Friday deadline to pass a budget.
Nonetheless Jordan had praise for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., calling him an effective communicator of conservative ideas.