CNN’s Jake Tapper Reminisce On First Meeting Speaker Johnson

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday spoke of his first meeting with newly elected House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), adding that he thought the then-private citizen was a smooth operator.

Tapper, while speaking on CNN’s “News Central,”  revealed that he first met Johnson 18 years ago in 2005 when he was covering a story in Louisiana. 

“I covered a story in Louisiana back in 2005. There was a parish that kept on bringing Christian priests into their parish to do school prayer, even though courts kept on telling them not to do so,’ Tapper said. “And the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) kept on challenging the school district in that parish to stop. And he was… Mike Johnson at the time worked for a conservative group called the Alliance Defense Fund, I believe it was called. And at the time, I remember being impressed at how smooth an operator he was. And at how he was able to present very conservative viewpoints, very religious conservative viewpoints, in a very mild-mannered and smooth way. And I remember thinking, this is going to be a congressman someday.”

While he might have expected Johnson to become a congressman one day, Tapper revealed that he never thought the Louisiana lawmaker would become the speaker of the House within 20 years of their meeting. Tapper, however, maintained that Johnson’s quick rise is not a surprise. 

Tapper also described Johnson as a person who has the ability to appear more mainstream than his ideology would suggest. 

“So, it is not entirely a surprise that he has been able to rise so quickly. And I think the American people will see, he seems very mild-mannered. He’s very smart, he’s very charming,” Tapper added. “His ideology is very far to the right. He’s very conservative. He is a true believer. And it will be very interesting to see if that’s a liability for him, given the fact that I think the center of his party is actually, probably, not as conservative as him. The center of the country is certainly much more close to the center. I don’t know that it will be a liability for him at all. It will be interesting to see.”