This story has been updated.
On Tuesday, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) successfully fended off establishment candidate and former Bush aide Taylor Griffin in the North Carolina primary by 51-45 percent margin. It was an important win for the tea party and libertarian Republicans seeking a more restrained foreign policy than what the GOP has promoted in the past.
Among politicians, Walter Jones is about as sincere and principled as they come. Here’s seven reasons why.
1. He went from introducing “Freedom Fries” to being the Iraq War’s harshest critic
Remember “freedom fries?” Walter Jones actually coined the term as a response to France’s refusal to aid the U.S. in the Iraq War. “Freedom fries” even appeared on the menu at three congressional cafeterias.
He also banished French toast.
“A lot of us are very disappointed in the French attitude,” Jones said at the time. It wasn’t long after this, however, that Jones did a complete one-eighty on the Iraq War, becoming an outspoken critic of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.
2. He wrote personal letters to every single family who had a member killed in Iraq
That’s right: Jones wrote to every single family. Consider this excerpt from a Mother Jones profile in 2006:
Jones began writing letters to the families of each and every U.S. soldier, sailor, and Marine killed in Iraq, a practice that he continues today. He’s written more than 2,000 in all. He works on them every Saturday, alone in his office in Greenville. He can bear to do only a few at a time. “I can do four or five letters, and then I have to stop and do something else,” he says. “And then I come back and do another five.”
Jones’s Communications Director Sarah Howard told Rare that, as of 2014, Jones has written over 12,000 such letters.
3. He said Dick Cheney is going to hell
As part of his personal crusade against the Iraq War, Jones suggested that former Vice President Dick Cheney is going to hell for misleading the American people about Saddam Hussein and alleged weapons of mass destruction.
“Congress will not hold anyone to blame,” Jones said to a Young Americans for Liberty crowd in Raleigh, N.C in 2013. “Lyndon Johnson’s probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney.”
4. He tried to impeach Obama
Jones was prepared to attempt to impeach President Barack Obama if he sent the U.S. military into Syria.
“If Congress sends one troop, if one of our troops goes to Syria and is killed, I will introduce articles of impeachment against the President,” Jones said at the time.
The Huffington Post noted as well that in 2011, Jones sued the administration for involving American forces in Libya without approval.
5. He tried to impeach Bush
In 2007, Jones joined a group of Democrats in support of moving impeachment articles against then Vice President Dick Cheney. But, reportedly, he wasn’t satisfied with stopping there.
Richard Lasser, a playwright, claimed that Jones told him in a private meeting that he would “enthusiastically support the impeachment resolution” of Cheney and perhaps even President Bush.
Lasser actually wrote a stage play based on the hypothetical impeachment of President Bush.
This, expectedly, drew the ire of many fellow Republicans. “When will this madness end?” asked Joe McLaughlin, a retired Army officer and conservative Republican challenger to Jones at the time. “Walter Jones is the poster-boy for the most radical elements of the liberal left and now is holding meetings in his office with anti-war activists trying to impeach our President.
“It’s time for the phony Republican to end the masquerade,” McLaughlin added. “With next Tuesday the deadline for switching Party affiliation for the May primaries, I call on Walter Jones to do the honorable thing – end this charade – and switch his Party registration.”
6. He keeps beating back the pro-war, establishment wing of the GOP
Reason noted, “the media’s big takeaway from yesterday’s North Carolina primaries seems to be that the GOP establishment has defeated the Tea Party insurgents,” but “the candidate … who had the longest record of defying his party’s leadership—Rep. Walter Jones, an anti-war, anti-TARP Republican … beat back a well-funded challenge from former Bush official Taylor Griffin.”