- McCarthy said he sees an “opportunity” to become the next speaker if Republicans retake the House.
- While on “Fox News Sunday,” McCarthy said Americans “deserve” a “clear, common sense alternative.”
- McCarthy said part of the GOP’s agenda would be a focus on energy independence.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday said that he sees an “opportunity” to become the next speaker if Republicans retake control of the lower chamber after the 2022 midterm elections.
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the California Republican told chief Washington correspondent Mike Emanuel that leading the House could be an option, but he is wholly focused on helping Republicans pick up the necessary seats to regain power.
“That’s an opportunity. The first and foremost responsibility is to take that House back. But we’ll be prepared to govern,” he said.
McCarthy for months has expressed optimism at his party’s chances of flipping the House this fall, and in a recent talk with Punchbowl News, he said that he felt that the party would have a majority that exceeds five seats.
“We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority,” he told Punchbowl cofounder Jake Sherman at the time.
While on Fox News, McCarthy said that Americans “deserve” a “clear, common sense alternative,” which he said Republicans could offer.
“We will provide to the American public a commitment to America. One that could stop this runaway spending that causes inflation, then we’re able to become energy independent, not dependent on Russia or any other country for our energy. And lower the price of fuel,” he said.
He continued: “We will make our streets, our schools safe again. We will secure our border to stop this immigration crisis, but more importantly, to stop the fentanyl that is coming into America.”
The Republican confidence stems from President Joe Biden’s approval ratings, which fell below 50% last year and have yet to recover. Also, historically, the party in power in Washington usually suffers losses during the first midterm election, and Democrats are currently struggling to rally their base after suffering legislative setbacks on voting rights, police reform and the party’s Build Back Better agenda.
However, McCarthy has come under criticism by some lawmakers for failing to adequately reign in the conduct of GOP members like Reps. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina — who recently implied that orgies and cocaine use are commonplace in elite Washington — and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who made an appearance at a white nationalist event earlier this year, among other controversies.
Democrats won back control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections fueled by a strong backlash against then-President Donald Trump. While Republicans failed to regain control in 2020, they unexpectedly knocked off enough Democrats to come within striking distance of controlling the chamber, despite Trump losing the presidential election.
Currently, Democrats control 221 seats and Republicans have 209 seats, with five total vacancies — 218 seats are needed to control the chamber.
While Democrats would have to defy historical norms to retain control of the House, they’re seeking to rally their voters as the fall approaches — and party leaders feel better positioned with the current redistricting cycle than they were in 2010, when the GOP picked up 63 House seats and flipped the chamber.