McCarthy Says Trump's Help Got Him Across the Finish Line, but the Holdouts Say Otherwise

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

When Kevin McCarthy gave his thanks to his supporters after he was elected Speaker of the House, there is one person not in the room he mentioned by name – former president Donald J. Trump.


“I do want to especially thank President Trump,” McCarthy was heard saying. “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning.”

“He was all in,” he added.

ABC News is reporting, however, that Trump’s influence really didn’t have any sway on a lot of the holdouts. Take Rep. Bob Good, for example.

“President Trump had no influence on the votes, myself or any of my colleagues,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., one of the initial five so-called “Never Kevins” who pushed for major changes to how the House functioned, told ABC News when asked what influenced his decision.

“Saturday morning, it became clear that it was inevitable that Mr. McCarthy was going to become speaker, and I saw no reason to prolong that through the weekend,” Good added.

And Rep. Matt Rosendale.

GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, who was captured in a now-viral photo waving off Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who was holding up a cell phone with Trump on the line, also told ABC News that the former president had nothing to do with his speaker vote.

“Not with my decision,” Rosendale said when asked if Trump played any role. “My decision was based on the voters of Montana and to support the constitution [sic] … I was meeting and listening to my constituents and my effort was always focused on making sure we had a much more open process.”


Rep. Ralph Norman, too.

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, another one of the initial five so-called “Never Kevins,” also told ABC News that Trump “didn’t have anything” to do with his ultimate decision to back McCarty [sic]. “In fact, I disagreed with him getting involved,” Norman said.

“This is a House function. We elect the speaker,” Norman added.

And also Rep. Byron Donalds.

Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who initially voted for McCarthy before switching his vote to Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and getting nominated for speaker himself, also told ABC News that Trump’s pressure campaign had little impact on him.

“It wasn’t that — it wasn’t that,” Donalds, who said he spoke with Trump throughout the process, said when asked if the former president’s efforts swayed him.

And others, like Rep. Andy Biggs, wouldn’t comment on whether or not Trump was to thank (or blame).

Election 2024 Trump
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Did Trump have influence over the process? Undoubtedly. But it seems pretty unlikely that his support is what got McCarthy the gavel. Trump’s influence was vital in securing early support from acolytes like Marjorie Taylor Greene, and a handful of people who would otherwise have stood with conservatives – including Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins, who went on statewide radio that week and proclaimed that there was no “archangel” who could come in and be better than McCarthy.


But the holdouts were not in the position they were in because of Trump. In fact, it had nothing to do with Trump at all. Their campaign against McCarthy was to either force a more conservative Speaker or get vital concessions necessary to make the House function more as it was intended to. They got the latter, all but neutering the Speaker’s chair in the process. It was a major victory for House conservatives like Chip Roy, and you can tell it was a major victory because of the attacks on him and those who stood with him.

McCarthy swore his fealty to Trump long ago. He has to maintain that loyalty to him, especially now that the process for forcing a new Speaker vote is so much easier. If McCarthy turns on Trump, Trump loyalists who stood with McCarthy during the vote will turn on him, throwing the House into even more chaos.

So, in a way, Trump is responsible for McCarthy becoming Speaker. He’s not the reason the holdouts switched over, but he did get McCarthy early support from other conservatives in the House. But, when you look at the lay of the land, that puts his tenure as Speaker on much shakier ground.


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