On Wednesday April 24, The Daily Caller spent a whole day with Louie Gohmert, the rib-making, baseball-playing, red-meat slinging former Texas judge who now represents Texas’ 1st Congressional District. From the baseball field, to a car ride with he and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, to a couple of television hits, I shadowed him. Here’s an hour-by-hour breakdown of what I saw:
6:30 a.m.: Baseball Practice
It’s Wednesday and Louie Gohmert is at Simpson Stadium in Alexandria, Va. — “Home of the Titans” — for the GOP’s first practice for the summer baseball game against congressional Democrats.
Gohmert has played in every baseball clash between Democrats and Republicans since he joined Congress in 2005 with the exception of one, due to injury. During one of those games, Gohmert says he tore his ACL when he collided with former Democratic California Rep. Joe Baca at home plate in an effort to score.
He says he has also had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, which has affected his throwing arm. That makes it more difficult for him to play his natural position in the outfield. Nonetheless, Gohmert spent most of practice in right field. TheDC suspects he feels most comfortable when he is on the right.
A team player, Gohmert also played catcher for one of the GOP’s would-be pitchers in the batting cage.
Word at the field is that the GOP lost last year because of poor infield play so infield players are asked to arrive earlier to practices so they can work on their defense. There is excitement surrounding freshman Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis. Some believe he could be the GOP’s secret weapon this year. The 34-year-old congressman captained Yale’s baseball team.
7:30: Off to the Hill
After practice, TheDC tags along with Gohmert back to Capitol Hill. It turns out Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake will be joining us for the ride.
TheDC gets in the back of Gohmert’s black Ford Explorer, which provides a nice view of the congressman’s boots. He will later put those puppies on. He’s from Texas, remember.
Gohmert and Flake, who until January served in the House with Gohmert, catch up. Gohmert laments that John Boehner “is still speaker so I’m still not chairman” of a committee.
Gohmert and Boehner don’t get along all too well. Instead of voting for Boehner for speaker in January, Gohmert voted for Allen West, who is no longer even a congressman.
Flake says he is still trying to get used to the Senate culture.
Flake is a member of the Senate “Gang of Eight” that recently unveiled its immigration reform bill. Gohmert has not spoken positively about the bill. Naturally, this seemed like a good topic to bring up.
“I don’t think the Senate bill will pass the House,” Gohmert says.
“I don’t think it will pass with Republican votes,” Flake proffers.
Gohmert says he is trying to get the Hastert Rule, an informal rule that stipulates that House leadership will not move to pass a bill that doesn’t have a majority of the GOP caucus, enacted as an actual rule. But so far he says he only has six or seven co-sponsors because people don’t want to put their name on something that will upset Boehner.
But back to immigration. Gohmert says that Flake’s “views differ a little on immigration,” but adds, “He’s always been a man of his word.”
Gohmert, who is known for being somewhat of a conservative firebrand, says he has no problem befriending fellow legislators who disagree with him as long as they’re honest.
“I’ve got a lot of good friends who are really liberal Democrats that will shock people,” he said, naming as examples former Democratic Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Democratic Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo.
“She’s a sweetheart,” he says of Kaptur.
But Gohmert wants to make clear he respects Flake because he has seen Flake stand alone on principle in a similar way he has.
“If you ever stand alone and make people mad like I have, you have tremendous respect for people who do that,” he says.
Gohmert also talks about his rib-making, which he says he is legendary for. People love his ribs, he exclaims — even vegetarians. Apparently Democratic New York Rep. Louise Slaughter loved them so much, she brought some home, only to have her vegetarian husband eat them. Or that’s at least what she apparently told Gohmert.
But the rib BBQs don’t happen as often anymore. He used to make them on the balcony of his office but the Architect of the Capitol shut down his barbecues, he said. Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton allows him to cook them on his office balcony, which apparently doesn’t violate the codes that concerned the Architect of the Capitol, Gohmert says. But he doesn’t like to inconvenience Upton so he doesn’t do it as often.
8:45 a.m.: Immigration briefing
Gohmert changes out of his baseball clothes and meets me in the Cannon House Office Building for the Conservative Opportunity Society Breakfast with “Gang of Eight” bill opponent Mark Kirkorian of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Gohmert is late for the meeting, largely due to baseball practice and talking to TheDC. The meeting is off the record.