Trump’s influence looms over McCarthy’s race to be next House speaker

Some in Trump’s orbit have even floated wild – but technically possible – the idea that the former president should play the hammer. While it is a highly unlikely scenario, the fact that it is being provoked in some conservative circles puts McCarthy on notice and reminds Republicans of the influence Trump continues to have over the party.

Reaffirming the idea that Trump has the power to make or break McCarthy’s pursuit of the speaker position, Representative Lauren Poubert, of Colorado, said Trump “is important in everything he weighs in,” so it “obviously” applies to the speaker’s race. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said that “of course” Trump would have an impact on the outcome if he participated. Representative Scott Degarlais of Tennessee said Trump’s vote “has weight.” Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia said Trump’s opinion would have a “big time” and “100%” impact.

If the former president were to endorse McCarthy for the speaker position, it would provide a decisive boost to the California Republican’s path to power, according to interviews with more than a dozen GOP lawmakers. That’s because Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress — some of whom have expressed their skepticism and growing frustration with McCarthy in recent weeks — are still taking cues from the former president.

And those lawmakers could end up becoming crucial votes in the speaker race, depending on their party’s margins if the Republican Party overturns the House. The hard-line House of Representatives Freedom Caucus, which has become a club of Trump’s fiercest defenders, is made up of about 40 members.

Trump remaining neutral in the competition would also be a boon to McCarthy, who is the frontrunner for the top job as he raises heaps of money and raises money for candidates across the country.

On the other hand, if Trump were to publicly or even privately oppose McCarthy — or encourage someone else to challenge him — he would almost certainly create a math problem for McCarthy, who needs 218 votes to win the speaker on the ground. . Trump’s potential influence in the House Republican leadership election is in stark contrast to the Senate, where minority leader Mitch McConnell maintains his steadfast support for his convention despite repeatedly criticizing Trump against the Kentucky Republican.

“Chief McCarthy is an important partner in President Trump’s efforts to restore the House of Representatives with strong Republicans who will fight for his America First agenda,” Trump spokesman Taylor Bowdwich said in a statement.

“Kevin has his full support. But if he goes out against him, it’s going to be ugly,” said Mike Rogers, Republican of Alabama.

Many Republicans, like Rogers, believe Trump will eventually get behind McCarthy if Republicans return to the House of Representatives next year — or at least stay on the sidelines. McCarthy was one of Trump’s earliest and strongest supporters, and having a trusted ally in charge of the House of Representatives would be very beneficial to Trump if he decides to run for president in 2024.

“I have no doubts that Kevin will become the speaker,” said Representative Jim Banks of Indiana, chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee. And part of that is because he has maintained a good relationship with President Trump.

Threat of rebellion from McCarthy’s right wing

However, some of Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress are already indicating that they will not automatically surrender their votes for the House speaker – a preview of the challenges that will confront McCarthy in his search for the gavel.

“I’m going to put things on the table that I want to see change over time, and then we’ll see what happens and see if anyone else is running,” Green told reporters before the holiday.

Representative Chip Roy of Texas, who recently tangled with McCarthy during a special Republican Party meeting, also had some strong words for the Republican leadership: “There is a growing feeling in the convention generally, not just the Freedom Caucus, that we need to fight… We need to trample on Gas “.

The threat of rebellion from McCarthy’s right wing, which had once denied him the position of speaker before, led McCarthy to carry out a delicate balancing act. Last week, he was facing a backlash from conservatives for not punishing the 13 Republican lawmakers who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Republicans Who Voted For Biden's Infrastructure Bill Are Under Trump's Heavy Criticism
But then McCarthy stood firmly behind Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican who had been criticized for posting a video clip depicting violence against Democrats, earning him widespread praise from the right. He even promised to return Gosar and Greene to their committees, and perhaps even “better” ones, if Republicans regain the House.
Later that day, McCarthy gave a marathon-like disruption speech on the House floor in opposition to the Democrats’ massive Social Safety Net bill. While it didn’t prevent the measure from passing the House, it did earn McCarthy’s handshake and five, and perhaps most importantly for McCarthy, public plaudits from Trump.

“Fantastic job by Kevin McCarthy last night setting a record by speaking for more than 8 hours on the House floor properly opposing communism. We must never forget what the Democrats have done, with the highest level of evil,” Trump said. in the current situation. “If Mitch McConnell had fought, you would have a different Republican president now.”

Pitfalls in the McCarthy-Trump relationship

Trump was furious with McCarthy in the wake of the deadly January 6 uprising, when the California Republican criticized Trump’s behavior and even floated the idea of ​​assigning blame to the then-president. But McCarthy, who was once nicknamed “My Kevin” by Trump, has since worked tirelessly to stay on top of his good fortune and the pair maintain a good working relationship while behind the scenes plotting to get the House back, according to several Republican lawmakers and aides familiar with their dynamics.

Trump recently presided over a Republican fundraising campaign in the House of Representatives, where he delivered warm words to McCarthy and even referred to him at one point as “the next speaker,” according to lawmakers who attended. McCarthy also told reporters last week that Trump called him off the golf course last week just to catch up, stressing the informality and closeness of their relationship.

The real reason Kevin McCarthy talked for 8 hours straight

“Catching up,” McCarthy said of their conversation. “The campaign was not (linked) either. I have a lot of friends. I talk to a lot of people.”

But a mercurial ex-president can also be unpredictable, and his views can tip over a dime. Plus, the election of a speaker will be more than a year away — plenty of time to get in and out with Trump.

Rogers called Trump “a fickle and great leader,” but said he has his “ups and downs” when it comes to relationships. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina added: “The former president is his own advisor. He has his own view. He will speak up. Period.”

Some Republicans also took note when Trump issued a statement last month praising the House minority, Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, who would be a leading candidate for House speaker if McCarthy couldn’t reach the number 218, for his response to a news story about former first lady Melania . trump card. Some interpreted Trump’s statement as a message to McCarthy, who at the time was facing calls from the right to take a harder line on a number of issues, to fight more forcefully.

And there have been other bumps in the McCarthy-Trump relationship this year. Trump was not pleased with CNN reporting that McCarthy and his leadership team were quietly working to raise funds for five of the 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump for fomenting the January 6 rebellion.

“I’ll see who’s financing it, and if it is, I’ll stop the whole deal. I’ll stop it,” Trump said on a conservative radio show.

It is unclear whether Trump will actually interfere in the speaker race or endorse a candidate. Some believe he will only intervene if McCarthy for some reason withdraws. But others don’t think Trump will miss an opportunity to get himself directly into the action.

“I think he would interfere with anything that could be relevant to him,” Degarlais said.

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