Presidential races

Gohmert says he may run for president, then says he won’t

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) sent mixed signals on his White House aspirations Thursday.

The conservative firebrand first told The Hill that he might run for president in 2016.

Gohmert indicated he could launch an exploratory committee for president when asked whether he would support Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) White House bid.

{mosads}”Ted is a good friend and would be an outstanding President; however, I haven’t ruled out an exploratory committee myself,” Gohmert said in a statement emailed to The Hill from a spokeswoman.

Later Thursday, an aide told the Texas Tribune that Gohmert was not entirely serious. 

“Washington D.C. contains too many who do not recognize statements made with a figurative tongue in cheek, sometimes known as being ironic,” the aide emailed to the Texas Tribune

The aide went on to joke about Gohmert’s lack of hair, saying there will be “no more bald Presidents in his lifetime.”

Gohmert launched long-shot bids for Speaker in January and for chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of House conservatives. But the Texas Republican accrued just three votes during the Speaker election — from himself as well as Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Randy Weber (R-Texas).

Gohmert is a frequent guest on Fox News and is known around the Capitol for his lengthy, extemporaneous speeches to a usually empty House chamber on weekly basis. He logged the most speaking time on the House floor last year out of any other lawmaker: a whopping 29 hours.

Gohmert’s 29 hours of floor time far outstripped the runner-up, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who spoke just 10 hours.

The topics of Gohmert’s floor speeches vary, though they frequently touch upon Middle East foreign policy, President Obama’s Justice Department and illegal immigration. He occasionally employs unusual visuals, such as posters depicting crucifixions while discussing persecutions of Christians.

Gohmert grabbed headlines during a hearing on Wednesday when he upbraided FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for the agency’s controversial net neutrality rules.

“Before the FCC stepped in, everybody was able to explore new business models,” Gohmert yelled. “The only business is now you’re playing God with the Internet, while saying ‘I’ll leave some room for you to come up with new business models.’ That’s not your job!”

Gohmert has frequently clashed with Attorney General Eric Holder over the last several years, including a memorable 2013 House Judiciary Committee hearing when he said the Justice Department hadn’t done enough to stop the Boston Marathon bombing. Gohmert’s response to Holder’s pushback was, “The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus.”  

Before his election to the House in 2004, Gohmert, 61, served as a Texas district court judge and as the chief justice on the Texas court of appeals.

—This post was updated at 9:53 p.m. 

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