House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday defended GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWashington Post reporter compares DC rioters to Boston Tea Party Women's march reaches Antarctica Steinem: If Trump creates Muslim registry, we'll all register MORE, who’s been attacked by rivals as an inauthentic conservative.
“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.”