House leadership elections: Kevin McCarthy fielding questions from GOP


House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy took questions from members of his conference at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill on Monday night, according to a member in the room, part of his effort to assuage House Republican concerns and win enough support to lead the conference in the new Congress.

McCarthy got a standing ovation in their first post-election meeting, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

“They don’t give out gavels in small, medium, and large – we have the majority and we have the gavels,” McCarthy said.

House Republicans are meeting Monday evening to discuss the leadership candidates, and have a closed-door vote on Tuesday. McCarthy will only need a simple majority to advance from Tuesday’s vote, but the vote on the House floor for speaker will come when the new House convenes in January, and McCarthy will need 218 votes at that time to win the speakership.

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a former chairman of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, is considering mounting a long-shot challenge to McCarthy during the House GOP’s internal leadership elections on Tuesday, according to GOP sources familiar with the matter. McCarthy’s team has been prepared for this possibility.

Biggs would not confirm to CNN if he is mounting a long-shot challenge at the House GOP’s internal leadership elections on Tuesday, but was confident there will be a challenger.

“Nobody has 218 votes and there will be a challenger in the conference,” Biggs said.

Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy told reporters Monday afternoon that someone will challenge McCarthy and receive enough votes to show that he currently doesn’t have enough to win the gavel in January.

“There will be an alternative,” Roy said.

Former President Donald Trump has been privately encouraging allies to support McCarthy’s bid for House speaker, according to two sources familiar with the effort, believing that the California Republican will be an asset down the road should the former president find himself in a contested 2024 primary.

Trump reaffirmed his support for McCarthy’s leadership bid in an interview with Fox News last week and he has since been working the phones to persuade Republican allies to back him, particularly conservative members who remain skeptical of McCarthy.

The news comes on the eve of Trump’s expected announcement for a third presidential campaign. The former president and the California Republican have spoken multiple times since the midterm elections, sources said, and McCarthy’s camp is hoping Trump’s endorsement will help win over some of the staunchest Trump supporters who have been critical of McCarthy.

Despite Trump’s pro-McCarthy campaign, it hasn’t fully broken through. Some of Trump’s staunchest allies have been all over conservative media attacking McCarthy. However, one notable Trump ally who will actually get to vote in the speaker’s race went on Steve Bannon’s podcast on Monday…

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