McCarthy: Trump is a conservative

McCarthy: Trump is a conservative
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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday defended GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: GOP in shock over White House drama The great divide: The American people and the partisan American government Risks of accidental nuclear war with North Korea must be accounted for MORE, who’s been attacked by rivals as an inauthentic conservative.

“I think Donald Trump is a conservative. He’s a Republican,” McCarthy said Monday during a briefing with reporters in his office in the Capitol.

“He’s in the business world, I’ve seen his actions that he’s taken,” McCarthy continued. “If you want to take every aspect you’ve seen, maybe on his television show, he’s made conservative decisions too. I take him as a conservative.”

The No. 2 House Republican hasn't picked sides in the GOP presidential primary. His remarks come as the GOP establishment continues to wring its hands over the possibility of Trump or another outsider, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), winning the party’s nomination.

Both candidates are predicting victory in Monday night’s first-of-the-nation Iowa caucuses. But McCarthy pointed out that in recent elections, Iowa has not correctly chosen the GOP's eventual nominee.

“I trust the American people. I think they will get it right,” he said.

To run for president, McCarthy said, candidates need to put forth an “optimistic” agenda. And they need to demonstrate competence and understanding in handling terrorism threats and other global issues.

“I think when you look at this presidential election, foreign policy and security is probably the No. 1 issue on both sides of the aisle,” McCarthy said.

“If you are going to deal with that subject, I think experience matters.”