Speaker Kevin McCarthy's Evaluation of Trump's 2024 Presidential Bid Ignites Debate Among Republicans

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) evaluated the 2024 election and assessed former President Donald Trump’s strength in the race. McCarthy said:

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Can he win that election? Yeah, he can. The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know that answer. But can somebody, anybody beat Biden? Yeah, anybody can beat Biden. Can Biden beat other people? Yes, Biden can beat ‘em. It’s on any given day.

Steve Bannon, host of War Room, criticized McCarthy’s comments as disloyal. Bannon was a co-founder of Breitbart News, top brass in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and was appointed to advisory positions in Trump’s administration after winning the election.

Bannon exclaimed:

His policies are terrific; the implication is he’s not. Screw you! I’m going on a jihad!

Bannon blasted the McCarthy-Biden debt ceiling deal and said it was a “mistake” by Trump to support McCarthy’s bid for Speaker in January, telling his audience:

I hope that President Trump now fully understands because he wasn’t on the right side of the football in the first week in January, but, hey, you know stuff happens. That was a mistake. And, now, let’s not double down on mistakes. He’s got all those court jesters up there around him, ‘Oh, McCarthy is really for you, he’s helping you, he’s doin’ all this stuff.’ He’s not doing anything. He’s putting the shiv in every frickin’ second of every day.

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Hours later, Speaker McCarthy clarified his comments saying that Trump is “stronger today than he was in 2016” and is “Biden’s strongest political opponent,” citing poll numbers. McCarthy condemned the media for the outrage and implied that it is intended to distract and divide the party, saying:

As usual, the media is attempting to drive a wedge between President Trump and House Republicans as our committees are holding Biden’s DOJ accountable for their two-tiered levels of justice. The only reason Biden is using his weaponized federal government to go after President Trump is because he is Biden’s strongest political opponent, as polling continues to show.

McCarthy emphasized the former President’s strength in the polls, saying:

Just look at the numbers this morning—Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016.

He cited a poll released Tuesday by Morning Consultshowing Trump beating President Biden in a hypothetical general election by three points, 44 percent to 41 percent. The poll showed Biden besting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a hypothetical general election by two points.

The survey was conducted June 23-25 with 3,650 potential Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points. The poll also indicated that 76 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of Trump, next to 23 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of the former president.

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Despite McCarthy’s previous comments saying that Trump bore some responsibility for the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, he soon after visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago and supported recent efforts to expunge Trump’s two impeachments. But, within the GOP conference, skepticism regarding Trump festers. Some members have publicly criticized the former president following the indictments, while others have declared their support for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

The Trump loyalists in Congress, many members of the Freedom Caucus, have caused the Speaker issues in having an appearance of control and unity in the House as they repeatedly stage opposition or obstructions within the conference. 

The Speaker compared Trump’s policies to Biden’s, saying:

The Republicans get to select their nominee. If you want to go for sheer policy to policy, it’s not good for Republicans; it’s good for America. Trump’s policies are better, straight-forward than Biden’s policies. 

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McCarthy has not officially endorsed a presidential candidate but has indicated that he may do so in the future.

Read More:

McCarthy’s Debt Ceiling Fallout: House Freedom Caucus Creates Procedural Blockade, Stalls Republican Agenda

Kevin McCarthy Sets Deadline for Merrick Garland Impeachment Inquiry

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