House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, making an appearance before California Republicans on Saturday, said after his successful but protracted fight for the hammer, he and the GOP have become a tougher and more formidable political force in Washington.
McCarthy had to make many concessions to the more conservative members of Congress to win the presidency, and even then it took 15 ballots – the first time in a century that a president was not elected on the first ballot. ballot. He called the experiment, a show broadcast live on national television, a test of God.
“He just thought we’d be stronger if we got through it,” McCarthy told hundreds of delegates and guests at a California Republican Party luncheon, his first state party address since taking office. he won the job.
McCarthy made no mention of former President Trump, with whom he has a complicated relationship. He was one of the real estate baron-turned-reality star’s earliest supporters during the 2016 campaign, leading Trump to call him “my Kevin.”
But McCarthy was furious with the then-president for failing to quell the insurgents who breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. This was followed by a number of conflicting statements about the president’s responsibility for the violence, first blaming him publicly and then saying Trump didn’t incite the crowd.
Almost a year ago, audio recordings emerged of McCarthy telling other GOP leaders in early 2021 that he planned to urge Trump to step down during the final days of his presidency. But recently, McCarthy decided to hand over some 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 security video to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who used the material to fuel an effort to explain the deadly attack on the Capitol.
The California Republican Party is still home to a slew of Trump cronies, some of whom were angered by McCarthy’s criticism of the former president in the aftermath of Jan. 6.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really think he handled it as well as he should,” said Elvira Moreno, a 54-year-old steward from Orange County.
She said he should have settled his differences with Trump privately in order to present a united front: “With him not supporting his friend, if they were ever friends, just from what I saw I didn’t feel he took a strong stay.”
But Moreno, who wore a Trump lanyard and brought a years-old photo of herself with McCarthy from a previous convention, said she was proud to see the Bakersfield native rise to No. the Presidency. She also backed actions he has taken since becoming president, such as kicking Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, Eric Swalwell of Dublin and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from congressional committees.
“He’s showing us he’s getting the job done,” Moreno said. “Accountability is very important, transparency. What he said was really what I wanted to hear as a Californian, as an individual involved for over 35 years.
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Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland, who recalled entertaining and hosting poker nights when he shared a Sacramento home with McCarthy and Doug LeMalfa when the trio were in the state Legislature in early 2010s, said he was proud of McCarthy and not surprised that he succeeded. .
“I said, ‘He’ll be the speaker, I don’t care if it takes 100 votes,'” Strickland said. “He’s a fighter and frankly, he works well with people, but when he decides, he fights. I think a lot of congressmen and a lot of people here really appreciate this fight.
They were among approximately 500 attendees who bought $250 to $350 luncheon tickets to see McCarthy, who did not speak to the media during the event. Some spent an extra $500 to go to a VIP reception with the speaker and take a picture with him.
McCarthy’s speech included popular Republican touchstones such as fortifying the border, expanding parental rights, supporting law enforcement, opposing China and mocking Governor Gavin’s hairstyle. Newsom as he criticized the Democrat’s spending priorities, including funding California’s high-speed rail.
“The only thing I think Gavin spends more time on than the bullet train is spending time on his hair,” McCarthy said.
Although the state’s GOP does not yet have a leading candidate for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Senator Dianne Feinstein, McCarthy blasted one of the top Democratic contenders, Schiff, which drew anger Republicans because of his role as Trump’s main Democratic enemy.
“He should never become a senator,” McCarthy said, saying Schiff had “lost his eyes” on issues like foreign policy and the supply chain.
The speech was the highlight of an otherwise relatively sleepy three-day convention at the Hyatt Regency.
No presidential candidates participated despite the state’s primary being less than a year away and California offering the largest cache of delegates of any state in the country. Orange County GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker called the 2024 presidential race a “crusade” during an invocation on Saturday.
Former Rep. Devin Nunes, who left Congress to run Trump’s social media company, was supposed to speak Friday night but canceled due to weather concerns. Two members of Congress spoke in his place, and three others spoke Saturday night, including newly elected Rep. John Duarte of Modesto and Rep. Michelle Steel of Seal Beach, who fended off a challenge in a tight district that includes swathes of Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Such election results were among the few causes for celebration for a party that won the last statewide mandate in 2006, and whose voters are outnumbered nearly 2 to 1 by Democrats.
Republicans wouldn’t have their five-seat congressional majority without those two wins, plus three more California pickups in 2020, McCarthy said, as he called for the re-election of state party chair Jessica Millan Patterson during Sunday’s internal party election.
“For the past two cycles, we’ve done nothing but win,” McCarthy said, ignoring the statewide lack of success and the party’s poor showing in the recall attempt. from Newsom last year.
Millan Patterson, a McCarthy protege whom he first urged to run for party office in 2019, is widely expected to be easily re-elected.