Tags: John Boehner Resigns | daniel webster | reacts | kevin mccarthy | dropping | out | house

Rep. Dan Webster: McCarthy Might Have Won If I Had Dropped Out of Speaker Race

(Fox News) 

By    |   Thursday, 08 October 2015 07:40 PM

Florida Rep. Daniel Webster said Thursday that Rep. Kevin McCarthy might have been chosen House speaker if he had quit the race, but Rep. David Jolly — who planned to nominate Webster — told Newsmax that he knew McCarthy did not have enough votes from Republicans to succeed John Boehner.

"I think maybe if I had dropped out, the election would have gone on," Webster, who is in his third term, told Shepard Smith on Fox News. "I think the speaker was shocked."

Webster's comments came after McCarthy, the House majority leader and clear favorite in the speaker's race, abruptly dropped out.

"Having elections is a good thing," he added. "Having a selection is a good thing. Having a candidate drop out right at the last minute is probably not that great."

But McCarthy was not going to get the 218 votes when the full House met later this month, Jolly told Newsmax.

"It had become clear to me and I'm sure others in the past week or so that there was no viable path for Kevin McCarthy to get 218 votes on the House floor," he said. "He may have left today's closed conference with the nomination, but that only required 50 plus one — but he did not have a path to get to a majority having 218 votes on the House floor."

With no warning, McCarthy, 50, who has represented California since 2007, withdrew from the speaker's race. The move shocked fellow members of the House Republican Conference and plunged the party's congressional leadership into chaos.

The conference was meeting to nominate a speaker candidate to present to the full House, including Democrats, for a vote on Oct. 29.

McCarthy, who was elected No. 2 last year after Eric Cantor's trouncing in a Virginia primary battle with newcomer Dave Brat, said he bowed out because it was "best to have a new face."

"If we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that," McCarthy told reporters. He said he would remain as majority leader.

McCarthy acknowledged that his Fox News comments last week on how the investigation by the special House committee on Benghazi has affected Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's poll ratings were "not helpful" — and he was strongly opposed by at least 40 conservative Republicans because of his ties to Boehner.

"I could have said it much better," McCarthy said of the Libyan remarks. "But this Benghazi committee was only created for one purpose, to find the truth on the behalf of the family of four dead Americans. I should not be a distraction from that."

McCarthy's move left Republicans stunned and in disbelief.

"I have never seen anything like this," said Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania. Said Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina: "We don't know why he did it."

Boehner postponed Thursday's election. The Oct. 29 vote currently stands, though it could also be delayed.

The speaker said that he would remain in his position until a successor is elected. He was scheduled to step down on Oct. 30.

Webster was endorsed Wednesday by the House Freedom Caucus group of conservatives who resisted McCarthy from the outset.

He told Fox that he was remaining in the race. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also remains a candidate.

"I think they loved the fact that we were going to work on actually work on doing the most important issues first, and they loved the fact that at least they're going to get a chance," Webster told Fox about the House Freedom Caucus endorsement.

"If you push down that pyramid of power and spread out the base, every member gets a chance to file their bill and have it heard and file their amendment and have it heard — as opposed to the system we have now, which closes out, closes down bills, limits debate and so forth."

The Freedom Caucus said that it, too, was surprised by McCarthy's decision and called for "principled leadership" in the new speaker.

"We respect Kevin’s decision to place the conference ahead of himself," the caucus said in a statement. "Our prayers are with him and his family.

"We believe that the House needs the principled leadership of a speaker who will empower the institution, its members, and the American people," the group added. "We must ensure that the processes in the House and in the Republican Conference are fair for all members.

"The next speaker needs to yield back power to the membership for the sake of both the institution and the country."

Jolly, a conservative Republican who is not a caucus member, told Newsmax that the candidate was Webster. He was to nominate his Sunshine State colleague at the conference meeting.

"He had my support then, he has my support now," he said. "In two weeks, I envision still supporting Dan Webster — and I hope he's the next speaker of the House.

"What I know, though, is in two weeks the landscape will look very differently," he added.

"We might be in a scenario where there is a consistent candidate that even Dan Webster and Jason Chaffetz decide to get behind."

News reports circulated late Thursday that Boehner was pressing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to seek the speakership.

Both Ryan and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the special House panel investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks, said they would not seek the position.

Jolly told Newsmax that it was just a matter of time before either Ryan or Gowdy stepped up.

"Until we have a candidate that can get to 218, the pressure is going to build on folks like Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy," he said. "If we cannot find a candidate, the pressure will build on folks like Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy."

Newsmax correspondent Greg Richter contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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Florida Rep. Daniel Webster said Thursday that Rep. Kevin McCarthy might have been chosen House speaker if he had quit the race, but Rep. David Jolly — who planned to nominate Webster — told Newsmax that he knew McCarthy did not have enough votes from Republicans to succeed John Boehner.
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Thursday, 08 October 2015 07:40 PM
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