Gaetz on Trump backing of McCarthy: ‘HR wasn’t always his strong suit’

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the most vocal opponents to House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) becoming Speaker, said former President Trump is wrong to support McCarthy, adding that “HR wasn’t always his strong suit.” 

Gaetz, a longtime Trump supporter, told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham in an interview on Thursday that he “would not bet” on him casting his vote for McCarthy under “almost any circumstance” despite the concessions McCarthy has given. 

“I love President Trump, I defended him a great deal in Congress, but HR wasn’t always his strong suit,” Gaetz said. 

He pointed to former Trump appointees like former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr and former Defense Secretaries Jim Mattis and Mark Esper as examples of people who did not “always advance an America first policy.” 

Gaetz said he plans to support Trump for the presidency in the 2024 presidential election, but he believes the former president is wrong to support McCarthy. He nominated Trump for Speaker on the 11th ballot Thursday but was the only representative to vote for him.

Trump reiterated his support for McCarthy in a Truth Social post on Wednesday, calling on all House Republicans to unify behind McCarthy to “close the deal.” 

McCarthy has been unable to clinch victory in the Speaker race through three days and 11 ballots since the House began its session on Tuesday. He has received overwhelming support from a vast majority of the Republican Conference, but 20 members have refused to support him throughout the voting, denying him the Speaker’s gavel. 

Despite Trump’s backing of McCarthy, none of the 20 who have withheld their support for McCarthy’s Speakership bid have switched their vote to support him. 

Ingraham noted several concessions McCarthy has made to try to win over the support from the holdouts, including agreements to place more members of the House Freedom Caucus, the most hard-line conservative members of the body, onto the House Rules Committee and to allow floor votes on congressional term limits and border security legislation. 

Gaetz said McCarthy is the “masthead of the lobby core.” 

“I resent the extent to which Kevin McCarthy utilizes the lobbyists and the special interests to be able to dictate how political decisions are made, how policy decisions are made and how leadership decisions are made,” he said. 

He said McCarthy has “sold shares of himself” to special interests and political action committees while serving as a party leader.

Tags concessions Donald Trump House Speaker vote Kevin McCarthy Matt Gaetz Matt Gaetz

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