McCarthy says he’s ‘better prepared’ for Speaker’s gavel than in past

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) listens to a question during a press event on Thursday, September 29, 2022 to discuss House Republican’s ‘Commitment to America’ plan.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a new interview said he is “better prepared” to lead as Speaker in the lower chamber, which Republicans are expected to capture in next week’s midterm elections, now than he was in the past.

“I’m better prepared now,” McCarthy told New York Magazine in an interview.

The California Republican came close to becoming Speaker in 2015, before dropping out of the race shortly before the vote.

He made the shocking decision after coming under criticism for comments suggesting that House Republicans’ investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had a political motive behind it.

He connected the probe to Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. Clinton was secretary of State at the time of the attack and went on to become the 2016 Democratic nominee for president.

McCarthy faced difficulties when it came to winning over more conservative lawmakers in the leadership race. The conservative House Freedom Caucus, which at the time had more than 40 members, endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for the top post. Then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was also in the running, though the Speakership ultimately went to then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

This time around, however, McCarthy is pointing to the relationship he has fostered with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus founder and former chairman.

“Probably my biggest advocate is Jim Jordan,” McCarthy told New York.

Republicans are currently favored to win control of the House over Democrats, according to election forecaster FiveThirtyEight, 81 percent to 19 percent. House Republicans, led by McCarthy, rolled out their midterm messaging and policy agenda — titled the “Commitment to America” — during an event in Pennsylvania last month.

McCarthy told Punchbowl News in an interview published this month that he believes he can win the Speakership regardless of how large the GOP conference’s majority is.

“I think I can win [the Speakership] with any seat majority,” he told the outlet.

“If I’m even up for Speaker, that means we won seats. I’ve been [the top House Republican for] two cycles. I’ve never lost seats, I’ve only won. … I recruited the candidates, raised the resources,” he said.

“If I’m not going to be acceptable to the body having that scenario this time, no one’s acceptable. … I don’t worry about it at night. I don’t worry about the attacks. I’m sure the attacks will come, they want to demonize,” he added.

But if the California Republican does not secure the Speaker’s gavel this time around, he told Punchbowl News it will mean it is “not God’s plan for me to [be] Speaker.”

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