Despite his staunch right-wing stance and pro-Trump rhetoric, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) can’t seem to win over the hardcore MAGA crowd. As much as he fiercely defends Trump against the litany of federal and state criminal charges the former president is facing, these far-right critics remain unappeased.
In a twist of politics and semantics, Trump loyalists lost their cool when McCarthy mused about the 2024 presidential race on a CNBC interview. Although he acknowledged Trump could win, he also contemplated if Trump was the “strongest to win the election,” causing a stir among the die-hard supporters. The mere thought of the GOP nominating someone other than Trump – like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina – is enough to infuriate Trump’s staunchest defenders.
Facing backlash, McCarthy resorted to damage control. He dialed Trump to apologize and offered an exclusive interview to Breitbart reporter Matt Boyle, during which he reassured the public that Trump is stronger now than in 2016. But these efforts did little to ease the anger of Trump’s inner circle. They perceive McCarthy as opportunistic, exploiting Trump’s influence for his gain without demonstrating unwavering loyalty in return.
Meanwhile, McCarthy has been swaying towards the demands of the far-right conservatives in the GOP, showing flexibility by threatening to impeach U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. In an apparent bid to appease the conservatives, he’s endorsed a resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), supported a vote to impeach President Biden, and championed resolutions to expunge Trump’s two impeachments. These are all moves seemingly made to placate the ‘firebrands’ of the GOP, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona).
But this push to please the MAGA-right isn’t winning McCarthy any fans across the aisle, and it’s also frustrating moderate Republicans. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-New Hampshire) criticized McCarthy’s pandering to the MAGA fanatics, arguing that he’s catering to the extreme element in his caucus, a position that she believes isn’t even supported by the majority of his own party.
The dance McCarthy is performing, swaying to the far-right tune while trying to hold his ground, is a fascinating, albeit dangerous, political ballet. It leaves us all to ponder: When will it be enough for the MAGA crowd? And at what cost?