GOP Congressman Jim Jordan Says Colin Kaepernick, Maxine Waters Created 'Dangerous' U.S. Partisanship

Republican Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan offered his latest blame against Democrats for creating "dangerous" polarization, renewing his "civility" criticisms of California Congresswoman Maxine Waters while defending President Donald Trump's economy.

Jordan stressed he is willing to work with Democrats and is pushing ahead with bipartisan legislation against government overuse of facial recognition technology. But speaking with the editorial board of The Lima News Friday, the staunch GOP backer of Trump switched gears and re-focused his criticism on "the left" for deeply dividing Americans. Jordan said "they," meaning Democrats and critics of the president, have ripped the country apart through acts such as the praising of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem in protest of police violence against people of color.

"I would argue it's not conservatives who have been polarizing — it's the left," he told The Lima News Friday. "Today's left applauds Colin Kaepernick when he refuses to stand for the national anthem and they embrace Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo when he says as governor of New York that America was never that great. They cheered Waters when she went on her rant and said that if you see anyone in the Trump cabinet you should push back and tell them they're not welcome anywhere. That is dangerous, and I would argue it's the left that's creating the polarization. It's not healthy."

The Lima, Ohio publication noted that Jordan initially discussed working alongside Democrats before quickly reverting back to using "us" and "them" language to expose what he views as a vast gap between members of the two parties. In his Friday interview, he singled out California Democratic Congresswoman Waters, who drew criticism last June for encouraging supporters to berate members of the Trump administration in public.

"I wish it wasn't that polarizing, but when Maxine Waters says, in essence, that Jim Jordan isn't welcome in the country any more, you have to debate that; and you have to win," Jordan continued. "This in my judgment is an attack on the fundamental principles that make our country so special. So you can't just say, 'Oh, we'll all get along even though you did that.' I don't see how you do that."

Last June, Waters told Los Angeles rally attendees that members of the Trump administration should be publicly harassed until migrant children are no longer being held in cages at the U.S. southern border.

Three Ohio Democratic challengers -- Shannon Freshour, Mike Larsen and Jeffrey Sites -- will face off on March 17 to run against Jordan for the 4th congressional seat he has held since January 2007. Sites scoffed at Jordan's remarks, telling Newsweek Saturday that the avid Trump defender is among Congress' "most extreme, hyper-partisan" members.

"Such a Washington line: 'We could have bipartisanship, if it weren't for that terrible other party!'" Sites, whose campaign ridicules career politicians like Jordan, said Saturday. "If he ever spoke to people in this district, he'd know that love him or hate him - none of them think he's a uniter."

Jordan's Lima office did not respond to Newsweek's request for additional comments Saturday morning.

Fellow Ohio 4th Congressional district candidate Mike Larsen told Newsweek via email Saturday: "I've heard Jim Jordan trot out his Colin Kaepernick and Maxine Waters line many times. While most bigoted politicians espouse their racist beliefs in code, Jim is upfront with his. Jim's career has always been fueled by hatred of minorities and immigrants. His commitment to bipartisanship is as non-existent as his suit jacket."

Jordan's comments come amid the latest accusations from former Ohio State University wrestlers who say the congressman was aware of sexual abuse being conducted by then-team doctor Richard Strauss. Jordan was an assistant coach with the OSU wrestling team from 1987 through 1995, a period of time in which more than a dozen lawsuits allege that Strauss sexually abused wrestlers and that university officials -- including Jordan -- took no action. Six wrestlers told CNN Friday that Jordan dismissed the male wrestlers' sexual misconduct complaints against Strauss for years, with one recalling Jordan saying, "I have nothing to do with this."

The latest report from the alleged victims prompted the "#JimJordanResign" hashtag to trend on Twitter Saturday morning. In contrast to Jordan's initial bipartisan optimism Friday, he's previously written off the OSU allegations by accusing his political opponents of conspiratorially setting him up.

Jordan has repeatedly denied any knowledge or wrongdoing during his tenure as the OSU assistant wrestling coach. Last year, a referee alleged that he told Jordan that Strauss masturbated in front of him in the shower decades before, a conversation Jordan called "ridiculous" last year, NBC News reported.

Speaking with The Lima News, Jordan did not address accusations that Trump himself is widely derided for a lack of civility by his critics and members of his own party. In an interview with Hill.TV last August, he emphasized Trump's accomplishments instead of addressing the president's behavior.

"I mean taxes are down, regulation is down, the economy is growing, unemployment is at its lowest in 20 years...by anyone's definition that is an amazing year-and-a-half," he said at the time. "We should be civil, we should work together. I think the president has been willing to do that."

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Ohio GOP congressman Jim Jordan blamed U.S. disunity on Democrats who supported Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protests and Maxine Waters' rallying cries of "no peace, no sleep" for Trump administration members in public. JOSE LUIS MAGANA - Pool/Getty Images