Conservative leader says GOP will unite behind Romney, but isn't endorsing

The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), says Republicans will “unite strongly” behind Mitt Romney if he wins the party’s nomination, though Jordan himself is not ready to endorse the former Massachusetts governor.

“Right now it looks like it’s going to be Mitt Romney. He has paid his dues, he has fought the good fight, and if he emerges as the winner, I’m going to be behind him 100 percent to help him beat Barack Obama this fall,” Jordan said Thursday in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” which will be broadcast on Sunday.

Jordan leads a conservative bloc in the House that comprises more than half of the Republican Conference and is known as an incubator of conservative policies.

He said he would be comfortable if Romney, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) or former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) won the nomination. 

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Jordan downplayed concerns that the prolonged and occasionally caustic GOP primary fight would hurt the party’s chances of taking the White House, but he acknowledged that what would drive most conservative voters to the polls this fall is not so much their own candidate as the chance to defeat President Obama.

“Two words: Barack Obama,” Jordan said. “If Mitt Romney’s the guy, that’s what gets us excited, is we do not want a second term for the guy who’s in the White House now.”

Party leaders have begun to rally around Romney's candidacy in recent weeks, and the former Massachusetts governor earned the endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Tea Party favorite, on Thursday. Jordan, however, said he wasn't ready to endorse.

In the House, the RSC has made life difficult for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as he’s tried to corral Republican votes for key legislation. Jordan said the committee’s role is to try to push the conference to the right. 

The 2010 elections that ushered in a House GOP majority, Jordan said, were not about compromise. 

“They weren’t about us coming here and getting along with President Obama,” Jordan said. “They weren’t about us coming here and working with [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid — they were about us stopping the Obama agenda, stopping healthcare, stopping the crazy, out-of-control spending, stopping all the quote 'stimulus' spending, stopping the tax increases.

“So that’s why the voters sent me here and sent this huge class of freshmen here,” he said. “Our job is to stop him.”

As for Boehner, Jordan said: “I would argue that the Speaker has done a good job in a tough situation — maybe the toughest job in this town, maybe the toughest job in America right now is what Speaker Boehner has to do. It’s a tough job. I would argue he’s handled it pretty darn well.”

Jordan said he couldn’t envision a scenario in which Boehner wasn’t the Speaker next year if Republicans keep the House, and predicted the party would elect “largely the same leadership team.”