On Saturday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a homecoming speech in front of California Republicans. He said that as a result of his successful but drawn-out battle for the speakership, the GOP as a whole had become a tougher and more powerful political force in Washington.
For the first time in a century, a speaker was not chosen on the first ballot. McCarthy had to make a number of concessions to the most conservative members of Congress in order to gain the position.
He described the event, which was a spectacle shown live on national television, as a test from God.
In spite of his problematic connection with former President Trump, McCarthy made no mention of him. During the 2016 campaign, he was one of Donald Trump’s earliest and most passionate supporters, earning him the nickname “my Kevin.”
But McCarthy was upset with the president at the time since he did nothing to stop the rebels who broke into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Following that, there were several contradicting remarks concerning the president’s accountability for the violence, at first openly criticizing him and then denying that he incited the mob.
In early 2021, McCarthy told fellow GOP leaders on an audio tape that he intended to ask Trump to resign during his final days in office, this was nearly a year ago.
Nonetheless, McCarthy recently made the decision to give over 41,000 hours of security footage from January 6 to Tucker Carlson of Fox News, who used the footage to support an attempt to deny the tragic Capitol attack.
There are still a lot of Trump supporters in the California Republican Party, some of whom were irritated by McCarthy’s criticism of the former president after January 6.
Mayor of Huntington Beach Tony Strickland said he was proud of McCarthy and wasn’t surprised by his success. Strickland recalled hosting poker nights and entertaining guests when he lived with McCarthy and Doug LeMalfa in Sacramento when the three were serving in the state Legislature in the early 2010s.
They were among the 500 or so people who attended and paid $250 to $350 for luncheon tickets to see McCarthy, who stayed out of the media’s line of sight. Some paid an extra $500 to attend the speaker’s VIP reception and get their photo taken with him.
McCarthy made fun of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s hairstyle while criticizing the Democrat’s spending priorities, which included funding for the California bullet train. McCarthy’s speech included well-known Republican talking points like fortifying the border, extending parental rights, supporting law enforcement, opposing China, and supporting law enforcement.
Kevin McCarthy Blasts Deomocrats’ Top Contender
McCarthy attacked Schiff, one of the Democrats’ leading candidates for the US Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has drawn the ire of Republicans for his role as a strong Democratic opposition to Trump, even though the state GOP does not yet have a notable candidate running.
The address was the main attraction of a three-day gathering at the Hyatt Regency that was generally quite dull. Despite the fact that the state’s primary is less than a year away and California has the most delegates of any state in the union, none of the presidential contenders showed up. The 2024 presidential election was alluded to as a “crusade” at a Saturday prayer by Orange County GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker.
Devin Nunes, a former congressman who quit to run Trump’s social media company, was scheduled to speak Friday night but had to postpone it due to bad weather. In his stead, two congressmen spoke, and three more did so on Saturday night. Among those speaking were the recently elected representatives John Duarte of Modesto and Michelle Steel of Seal Beach, who triumphed over a challenger in a competitive district that includes parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Such election outcomes were among the few reasons for excitement for a party whose voters are outnumbered by Democrats by almost a two-to-one margin and last gained statewide office in 2006.
McCarthy argued that without these two victories, along with three additional victories in California in 2020, Republicans would not have their current five-seat majority in Congress. McCarthy was speaking as he called for the reelection of state party chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson during Sunday’s internal party elections.