When Paul Ryan announced yesterday that he was not seeking re-election to the House seat he's held since first being elected in 1998, he made it clear that he meant to stay on board as Speaker of the House through the end of the current term of Congress.
This time, McCarthy isn't revealing much about his potential aspirations to move up the leadership chain, downplaying the urgency to mount a campaign for Speaker. "I just don't want to be one of those people looking back on my life thinking I spent more time with my kids when I know if I spend another term, they will only know me as a weekend father". He mentioned California's McCarthy and Scalise but also said another candidate might be possible.
For now, McCarthy and Scalise are seen as the chief contenders.
Another Republican said McCarthy doesn't have enough support among GOP conservatives to win a majority of the party's votes in the House.
Scalise has said would like to be speaker some day.
McCarthy suggested in 2015 that a House committee probing the deadly 2012 raid on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, had damaged Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, undermining GOP arguments that the investigation wasn't politically motivated. "And we did not do that four weeks ago on that big omnibus spending package, not even close".
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When restive Republicans drove Ohio Rep. John Boehner to step down as House speaker in October 2015, it was widely assumed that the Californian known for his well-honed political skills and pleasant nature would step into the role.
Freedom Caucus members also said they were open to considering McCarthy at first in that cycle, but ultimately rejected him for Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., who had little chance of winning. By offering himself as an alternative choice, ready in case McCarthy fails to muster support, he is essentially making an indirect bid for the top post. Shrewdly, McCarthy has leaned all the way into this alliance, sort through bags of Starbursts to deliver to the president only the flavors he likes, not unlike a tired parent doing the little things to keep their toddler's screaming to a minimum. It also called for "significant changes to conference leadership", a similar request to Jordan's concerns Wednesday.
Ultimately, Ryan stepped in to take the speaker's gavel at the urging of his House GOP colleagues.
The Freedom Caucus chair has sworn that he has no interest in a leadership position, but so did Paul Ryan during the last go-round, before McCarthy's unexpected withdrawal plunged the race into turmoil.
Scalise's statement potentially cools a brewing leadership battle between the No. 2 and the No. 3 top Republicans. Freedom Caucus members have lambasted its passage. That relationship could help him argue to fellow Republicans that he is the man in the best position to advance the Trump agenda on Capitol Hill.