GOP strategist, whip ally: Republicans need 'cultural revolution' with Kevin McCarthy as Speaker
With all the talk surrounding moves to unseat House Speaker John Boehner, Republican strategist Dee Dee Benkie told Breitbart News on Saturday she thinks his replacement should be Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
“Kevin is number three in House leadership. It’s not a stretch,” Benkie said. “Kevin is very likeable. He’s got a different personality – he’s from California. He’s not the typical guy. He has a tendency to make things happen.”
“For the sake of change we need to do this,” she added. “We need to show Americans, and we need to show our party, that we are starting anew.”
Benkie said she thinks McCarthy can keep the GOP from going the way of the Whigs by making it more modern.
“It’s happened before so don’t think it won’t happen again,” she said. “We’d don’t need to be more moderate. We need to be more modern. It’s okay to be conservative.”
Benkie said McCarthy isn’t “a die hard conservative but he’s certainly not a liberal, he’s not a moderate guy. I think he’s sort of center-right. I think what we need right now is someone who can maneuver and someone who is very good in with people. I’ve known Kevin for a long time and he has a special way of making things happen.”
Benkie served with McCarthy as the co-chairman of the National Young Republicans in the early 2000s. “We ran together so I’ve seen him in action,” she said.
Benkie said she thinks McCarthy’s “rock star” personality could spark a “cultural revolution” needed to lift the GOP out of its funk.
“They got their rock star,” Benkie said, referring to President Barack Obama’s personality and how it attracts Democrats. “We need our rock star.”
“I think he’s got that rock star quality like Obama does. We need someone like that on our side,” she said. “Who is it? In my opinion, Kevin is.”
“I’ll tell you what, too: the left-wing media would have trouble with Kevin. He’s very likeable. He’s good-looking, likeable, sharp, gets it.”
“It reminds me a little bit of Obama,” she said. “Here’s Obama – who has a terrible record economically, I mean we’re in the pits, and the guy gets re-elected easily? But politically you got to give him credit. Obama has a special way – he sort of has a rock star quality about him. He’s really good with people. Kevin’s got some of that same talent. You know, some people just have it.”
Benkie said Republicans have to find a way to make being conservative “cool.”
“This is why the Breitbart thing, I get,” she said. “We’re like cool conservatives, you know what I mean? That’s where, and maybe this is the answer, a lot of Republicans are culturally just inept. I like Kevin because maybe he can close that culture gap.”
McCarthy is one of the three Republican “Young Guns.” The other two are House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan. Benkie said she’s “sure” the Young Guns concept was McCarthy’s idea. “He’s a marketer. He’s an ideas guy. You know how he got started, right? He opened a deli called ‘Kevin O’s.’”
“I love Paul Ryan, but he’s a kind of mixing the numbers guy,” Benkie added. “During the debates, he got all wonky. Kevin’s not like that. Kevin’s like the cool Republican.”
Benkie said McCarthy would make a better Speaker than Boehner “by far, there’s no question” and that “there’s only such much he [McCarthy] can do” for the cause while he’s Boehner’s whip.
Despite Benkie’s efforts to get McCarthy to do this – she’s asked him personally and advocated it during at least two Fox News appearances – she doesn’t expect McCarthy to step up until and unless Boehner and Cantor move out of the way first.
“Some people will throw their bosses under the bus, and they wouldn’t get ahead if they didn’t,” Benkie said. “Kevin isn’t like that. If there’s one thing about Kevin, he’s very loyal. He wouldn’t do that to Boehner. But, when Boehner sees the writing on the wall and says, ‘okay, I’m out,’ I’d like to see Kevin step up.”
Benkie added that if Boehner stepped down and Cantor stepped up to run for Speaker, McCarthy “would support Cantor.”
But if Boehner and Cantor both stepped down, Benkie said “oh he [McCarthy] would do it. I’d be shocked if he didn’t. Kevin McCarthy will be Speaker of the House one day.”
“I think Boehner would be smart to step down the easy way now. I think it would look honorable for him to do that. He could name his heir apparent and that’d be great. If he wants to go out with dignity, I’m all for that. I’d like to see it be a newer, bolder decision – but Kevin would be.”