Though a conservative thorn in the side of GOP leadership, Jim Jordan has little sympathy for Evan McMullin’s effort to upset the Republican establishment. On Monday, the Freedom Caucus chairman dismissed McMullin’s calls for a new party as “dead wrong.”

McMullin, the CIA operative turned protest presidential candidate, has suggested that the emerging alt-right makes a new GOP necessary because that minority rejects the equality of all Americans.

During an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Jordan said “that’s just dead wrong.”

“Of course we believe all are created equal. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, all are created equal,'” Jordan said, channeling the Declaration of Independence. “I believe that. That is the truth. The folks who started this great country understood this fundamental principle, and everything is built off that.”

An unusual defense of the establishment from their most vocal critics, Jordan’s answer reflects the greater strategy of the Freedom Caucus. The conservative faction doesn’t want to torch the GOP. They just want to refurbish it.

An anti-establishment wave generated by Trump could help sweep the Freedom Caucus into a more prominent position on Capitol Hill. They’ve already used House Speaker Paul Ryan’s opposition to Trump as leverage. During a rare D.C. meeting last week, they signaled that they’d drop that opposition in exchange for a spot inside House leadership.

That would explain why Jordan has cheered Trump and rejected McMullin’s concerns. “Our party needs to have a populist tone,” Jordan explained, “because middle-class families are getting the shaft right now.”

But while the Freedom Caucus could use Trump for a temporary advantage, Jordan seemed intent on reorienting the candidate’s populism after the election. His version would be purged of alt-right elements.

Jordan described it as “a populist tone rooted in the principles of the Constitution, rooted in the principles of the Bill of Rights, rooted in respect for everyone regardless of color, regardless of anything.”

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Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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