McCarthy took the initiative to call Trump directly and offer his apologies in the face of mounting pressure from Trump supporters calling for his removal as House speaker, according to a CNN report on Wednesday.
The controversy erupted during McCarthy’s appearance on CNBC, where he expressed doubts about Trump’s strength as the Republican nominee for the upcoming presidential race in 2024. His comments, suggesting the existence of stronger candidates within the GOP, immediately drew criticism.
During his appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box, McCarthy claimed, “Can he [Trump] win that election? Yeah, he can. The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know the answer. But can anybody beat Biden? Yeah, anybody can beat Biden. Can Biden beat other people? Yes, Biden can beat them. It’s on any given day.”
Facing backlash, McCarthy later walked back his comments, informing Trump that he misspoke. He also conveyed to Trump that the mainstream media deliberately distorted his words, as reported by CNN.
To further clarify his stance and reinforce his support for Trump, McCarthy also spoke with Breitbart, where he said, “Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016.”
He accused the media of conspiring to create a division within the GOP, saying, “As usual, the media is attempting to drive a wedge between President Trump and House Republicans as our committees are holding Biden’s DOJ accountable for their two-tiered levels of justice,” he told Breitbart.
The House Speaker also named Trump as Biden’s biggest threat. “The only reason Biden is using his weaponized federal government to go after President Trump is because he is Biden’s strongest political opponent, as polling continues to show.”
Despite his efforts to apologize and reaffirm his loyalty, McCarthy refrained from endorsing Trump’s 2024 bid, as he received advice to maintain neutrality in the race.
CNN reported that Trump’s advisors cautioned the former president, suggesting that a McCarthy endorsement could alienate his conservative voter base.