Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced on "Fox News Sunday" that he is officially running for House speaker, though he will support whoever the Republican caucus votes to support next week.
Just one week ago, Chaffetz expressed his support for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner. But McCarthy's support has slipped since he appeared on Fox News Channel's "Hannity" last week and made comments that some interpreted as an admission that the House Benghazi committee's real purpose was to hurt Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
McCarthy has denied that is what he meant, but the slip has made many Republicans wary of supporting him. He is still shy of the 218 floor votes needed to win the speakership after Boehner officially leaves on October 30.
This week, the GOP caucus will vote on whom it plans to support. McCarthy has that vote easily sewn up, Chaffetz admitted, but the process is by secret ballot, Chaffetz said, and enough members won't stand by McCarthy when they have to publicly attach their names to a vote on the House floor.
"I will support the nominee, but I just don't believe that the nominee, if it's Kevin McCarthy can actually get to 218," Chaffetz said. "That's why I've offered myself as a candidate to try to bridge that divide … between our more centrist members and some of the more right-wing members."
McCarthy has been in leadership for years, and the divide within the party is getting worse, not better, Chaffetz said.
"We need internal process reform and how we select the committees, bringing more votes to the floor," he said. "I don't expect every vote we bring to the floor we win. I want to vote more, not less. I want the committees to be more empowered."
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