Kevin McCarthy calls Cheney’s arch-enemy endorsement a ‘special case’
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he will not enter any other primary to oust his own party’s incumbents, after making the unprecedented move to back Rep. Liz Cheney’s main opponent on last month.
“This is a very special case,” McCarthy told CNN during an interview at the House GOP’s annual policy retreat.
The California Republican went all-in to eliminate Cheney, his former ally and former member of his leadership team, after voting to impeach then-President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and continued to call out the former president’s lies about the 2020 election from her party leadership position.
McCarthy has thrown her political clout behind Harriet Hageman, a Trump-backed congressional candidate who is challenging Cheney in Wyoming — an endorsement that has earned her plaudits on the right, a key constituency in a potential future bid for the president’s gavel. The GOP leader is hosting a fundraiser for Hageman at the home of his longtime friend and adviser Jeff Miller, with more than 100 House Republicans joining the guest list in a huge show of force, sources familiar with the news say. ‘event.
But McCarthy has not taken similar steps to oust — or punish — some of his conference’s most controversial fringe members. This includes Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who both recently spoke at a conference hosted by a known white nationalist, although McCarthy condemned their appearances at the event and said he spoke to Greene about it privately.
“A leader with honor would reject — not protect — pro-Putin, anti-Semitic and white nationalist members of the party, instead of fighting Liz Cheney for telling the truth,” Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler said. in a press release. at CNN.
During last year’s House GOP retreat, McCarthy and Cheney’s relationship reached an all-time high when she publicly broke with him over the scope of a bipartisan commission on January 6 and did not rule out a 2024 presidential bid. Thereafter, Republicans moved quickly to jettison Cheney and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York as House GOP conference chair.
“The conference president was going out and doing her own thing,” McCarthy said of last year’s retirement. “It wasn’t about our policies.”
When asked if he would allow Cheney to join the House GOP conference if she returned to Congress next year, McCarthy didn’t want her to win and predicted she would lose her primary.
McCarthy’s revenge against Cheney, however, does not extend to the other nine House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump: “I support them,” McCarthy told CNN.
McCarthy noted that he supports other incumbents such as Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who faces a primary Trump-backed challenger in Washington state, and Rep. David Valadao, another California Republican and close McCarthy ally. . Both represent swings that are essential in their quest for majority.
However, McCarthy’s support for those lawmakers puts him directly at odds with Trump, who is on a revenge tour against Republicans who voted to impeach him or sharply criticized him. But McCarthy dismissed the idea that it would jeopardize their efforts to retake the House.
“He’s going to be different on impeachment,” McCarthy acknowledged, “but otherwise I see him working to help us win a majority.”