Hinting at this week's battle for the open House speaker chair, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that Republicans lack discipline and have failed to take their message to the American people.
The "number one thing we have to do" is "elevate the debate and take the argument to the other side," said Jordan.
"I think what happens all too often is we forfeit before the ref[eree] blows the whistle," Jordan told students from the Young America's Foundation Saturday.
Citing a Washington Post poll last weekend that found over 60 percent of Republican voters believe Republican leadership has betrayed them, Jordan noted the word "betrayed."
"Not disappointed," said Jordan. "Pick up that word — betrayed. Because they don't think we're fighting for the very things we told them we were going to fight for when they gave us the privilege of serving."
Jordan, the leader of the House Freedom caucus, emphasized that "this is something we have to figure out in the leadership election."
Nearly 80 Republicans belonging to the House Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party Caucus, the House Liberty Caucus, led by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and the Conservative Opportunity Society, who have opposed much of House Speaker John Boehner's agenda, have announced that they will interview the candidates for speaker Tuesday.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was thought to be the next in line for Boehner's seat, but Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who announced his own bid Sunday, said McCarthy has "a math problem" and will be unable to get the conservative votes needed to win the speakership.
"You need 218 votes on the floor of the House. There are 246 Republicans that will vote," said Chaffetz on "Fox News Sunday." "But there are nearly 50 people, a growing number, that will not and cannot vote for Kevin McCarthy as the speaker on the floor."
Jordan told the students that Democrats "have a radical position" on taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, but that Republicans had failed to "fully commit to the debate and take the case to the American people."
"Right? You have to, you have to," he said with emphasis, "get off the sidelines, take the risk, get into the game, elevate the debate, fully commit, make your argument in a compelling and articulate way — and then you can win."
"Because that's how American politics works," said Jordan, using his hands to demonstrate. "Here's where they're at, here's where we're at, take the case to the American people [and] they weigh in with their representatives; and that's how you win the debate."
Jordan used an anecdote from his high school wrestling days as an emblem of the "one quality needed more than ever in Washington, D.C."
He said that his high school coach, who was one of the toughest in Ohio, hung a sign in the wrestling room that read: "Discipline: doing what you don't want to do, when you don't want to do it."
"And basically that meant doing things coach's way when you'd rather do them your way," said Jordan. "It meant doing things the right way, when you'd rather do them the convenient way. It is such an important principle ... the more you can do the tough things even when you don't want to ... the better chance you're going to have of reaching your goals."
Jordan concluded by saying that discipline is "the one quality that is needed now more than ever in Washington, D.C."