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Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a new interview he was still mulling whether to seek reelection following his ouster from the powerful post — as he ripped the fellow Republicans who led the charge to force him out.
“I got the holidays. I will talk to my family about the ideas of what is going forward, and then I will make a decision,” the California Republican said on CNN’s “Inside Politics” on Sunday about if he would run to stay in the House of Representatives.
After he was pushed out of the speakership last month, reports emerged that McCarthy was contemplating passing on a reelection bid, but he later denied that and insisted he planned on running.
But McCarthy, in the interview, sounded as though he missed his old gig, telling CNN, “It hasn’t been gone that long, but like anyone else, I want to be at the table.”
“It’s a little harder, you want to make other decisions,” he said of the transition to rank-and-file congressman.
“But unfortunately, eight Republicans worked with all Democrats to disrupt and now we’re in a different situation.”
McCarthy had an axe to grind with the eight Republicans, led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who embarked on the crusade to take him down.
“Matt’s goal was to be the TV congressman,” McCarthy alleged. “I think Congress is too important and the issues are too big to focus on such small things that Matt tries to. It’s more a division — and focused on himself.”
He also ripped Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) who joined the revolt against him, predicting she would struggle electorally.
“Not because of this. I mean, if you’ve watched her — just her philosophy and the flip-flopping, I don’t believe she wins reelection,” the former speaker surmised.
Gaetz fired back saying, “thoughts and prayers to the former speaker as he works through his grief.”
Mace, meanwhile, defended her vote against McCarthy and accused him of “lying all the time to her.”
McCarthy has publicly accused Gaetz of pressing him to intervene in the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation into Gaetz — something the Florida congressman denies.
“If the Ethics Committee never does anything to Gaetz, then Gaetz was successful in stopping probably what rightfully should come to him,” McCarthy said.
“Going through the three weeks taking down a Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, Tom Emmer — all people who are really prepared to do the job —That was frustrating,” he added.
Gaetz had publicly backed some of those candidates for House speaker, including House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
All of them failed to acquire sufficient votes from the threadbare House GOP conference to become speaker.
Newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who until then had been a little known figure outside the beltway, managed to unanimously lock down Republican support for the gavel last month.
Now he finds himself in a similar pinch as McCarthy, struggling over how to avert a government shutdown on Nov. 17.
“The last 45 days — when you get to [Nov. 17] — was designed for us to go to conference and work out the differences between the Senate and the House,” McCarthy bemoaned.
“Unfortunately, we went through a speaker’s race and we didn’t have time to do all this. So we’re kind of back at square one.”
The Californian sounded supportive of Johnson as he grapples with similar predicaments, though the new speaker hasn’t faced serious chatter of an ouster — at least not yet.
McCarthy insisted that his move to bring forward a stopgap to fund the government ensured US troops got paid, and said, “I would do the exact same thing again.”
In late October, sports trading card merchant David Giglio announced a primary challenge against McCarthy for the GOP nomination in California’s 20th District, though the incumber is the overwhelming favorite.
McCarthy’s recent Republican predecessors, however, departed Congress after giving up the speaker’s gavel: John Boehner, of Ohio, resigned in 2015 amid a mutiny attempt from the Freedom Caucus, while Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan opted not to vie for reelection in 2018 ahead of the Democrats’ takeover of the House.
McCarthy’s ouster marked the first time in US history that a sitting speaker had been booted by a House vote.