Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Tuesday night said former President Trump has reiterated support for his Speakership bid, hours after the California Republican failed to secure the gavel in three ballots amid GOP opposition to his candidacy.
The comment came after Trump, in an interview with NBC News earlier on Tuesday, declined to say if he was still backing McCarthy for the top spot after he fell short of the Speakership following three rounds of voting.
“Trump has already reiterated his support; I talked to him tonight,” McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol after emerging from a closed-door meeting with allies.
The former president threw his support behind McCarthy’s Speakership bid the night before the November midterm elections, handing the California Republican a key endorsement.
Trump doubled-down on that support in December, telling Breitbart in an interview that McCarthy “deserves the shot.” He also warned McCarthy opponents that they were “playing a very dangerous game.”
But Trump’s backing came into question on Tuesday after McCarthy failed to lock up the Speakership after a trio of votes. Asked if he would continue his support for McCarthy, Trump told NBC News “we’ll see what happens.”
“I got everybody calling me wanting my support. But let’s see what happens and we’ll go — I got everybody calling, wanting my support,” he said. “That’s all I can say. But we’ll see what happens. We’ll see how it all works out.”
On Tuesday night, however, McCarthy told reporters that he has the former president’s backing. Asked if Trump wants him to remain in the race, McCarthy said “oh yeah.”
The House adjourned on Tuesday without a Speaker after McCarthy came up short of the majority vote needed to secure the gavel. Staunch opposition from a contingent of Republicans denied him the gavel, with the GOP dissenters refusing to bend on their resistance despite McCarthy winning the conference’s nomination for Speaker in November.
McCarthy secured 203 votes on the first and second ballots then 202 on the third. Democrats remained united throughout all three rounds of voting, with caucus leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) securing 212 votes on each ballot.
The same 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy in all three rounds, and the group gained another member on the third ballot.
McCarthy on Tuesday night detailed Trump’s perspective on the current state of the Speaker race and what the path forward should look like.
“He thinks it’s better that all the Republicans get together and solve this, it doesn’t look good for Republicans, but we want to be able to solve it where we’re stronger in the long run,” McCarthy told reporters. “Where what we went through today in the end becomes a positive that we’re actually focused, united.”
“His perspective is he wants to see the Republicans united to be able to accomplish the exact things we said we’d do,” he added.
McCarthy defectors coalesced around Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Tuesday. The Ohio Republican received six votes on the first ballot, then all the McCarthy detractors during the second and third rounds.
Jordan has consistently said he has no interest in serving as Speaker and is instead eyeing the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee. He voted for McCarthy on all three ballots Tuesday and nominated the California Republican on the second ballot.