This morning, Kevin McCarthy noted that the House is paralyzed because there isn’t a speaker in place. While he didn’t declare his candidacy, McCarthy’s message was clear: The US is in a mess now and might have trouble assisting Israel because he is not speaker.
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When Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was booted from his position as House speaker last week, he certainly didn’t sound like a guy who would try to get his job back.
“I will not run for speaker again,” he told reporters at the time. “I’ll have the [Republican] conference pick somebody else.”
Six days later, he is sounding a different note.
The first indication that something had changed from the sulky tone he had struck following his ouster was that he scheduled a press conference for Monday morning as though he were still the top Republican and not just another GOP lawmaker.
Perhaps McCarthy realized over the weekend that he missed the trappings that come with being speaker.
Of course, the other thing that changed was that Hamas attacked Israel, and that might just provide the Californian with the opportunity to get back in the game.
During his press conference, he noted that the House is currently paralyzed because there isn’t a speaker in place. While he didn’t declare his candidacy, McCarthy’s message was clear: The US is in a mess and might have trouble assisting Israel because he is not speaker right now.
He also pointed out that 96 percent of the GOP caucus supports him and that he only lost his job because a few renegade Republicans and all Democrats worked together.
McCarthy then went on to blast these renegade lawmakers, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
“If this conference, regardless of who’s gonna be speaker, if it allows a few individuals that love a camera more than they love the American public, we are not gonna govern,” he said.
McCarthy: "If this conference, regardless of who's gonna be speaker, if it allows a few individuals that love a camera that love a camera more than they love the American public, we are not gonna govern" pic.twitter.com/BnrBe9UGL0
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 9, 2023
Asked explicitly whether he would want to be speaker again, McCarthy just stated that this would be up to the GOP conference… which sounds very different from what he said last week.
He was asked the same question during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
In that conversation, he sounded even more like somebody who felt he had been wronged and deserved another shot.
“Look, whatever the conference wants, I will do. I think we need to be strong. I think we need to be united. The eight, in my view, don’t look to be…it was a personal thing. It wasn’t about where we were going,” he said, referring to the eight Republicans who voted to oust him.
McCarthy also made it clear that this is a moment in time when a speaker (like him) is sorely needed, and that his decision to cooperate with House Democrats to keep the lights on in the government was crucial because it allows the US to assist Israel.
And, while plenty of Republicans may not care about keeping the government open, they all care about helping Israel.
“Think for one moment. If you take some of their comments of why they did this, because I kept the government open? Could you imagine? They’re the ones that stopped appropriations bills from going forward. They’re the ones who voted against a continuing resolution that secured our border and cut spending. They’re the ones who wanted a government shutdown,” he said. “We wouldn’t be paying our troops while we’re putting out a carrier strike fighter there, and 30,000 American men and women in our armed services in the Middle East wouldn’t be being paid right now?”
Plenty of pundits think that it is a longshot bid for McCarthy to return to his perch. However, the longer it takes the GOP conference to choose between the two declared candidates, Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), and the greater Israel’s need is, the better it will be for McCarthy.
In other words, the Hamas attack came at an opportune time for him to reinsert himself into the speaker’s race.