Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped out of the race for Speaker of the House suddenly on Thursday morning, telling Republican colleagues in a caucus meeting that he no longer felt he could lead.
Bret Baier of Fox News quoted McCarthy as having said, “I am not the right man to lead right now.” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told the New York Times that McCarthy had said: “I’m not the one to unify the party.”
McCarthy had been damaged in recent days by claiming on Fox News’ Hannity that the House select committee on Benghazi was a success because it had damaged Hillary Clinton’s political support by exposing her email scandal. Democrats pounced on his remarks, and GOP colleagues expressed dismay at the suggestion that they were motivated by something other than the desire to get to the bottom of what happened during the 2012 terror attacks and in the cover-up that followed.
Other candidates for Speaker, following John Boehner’s abrupt resignation last month (effective Oct. 30), include Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, who has the support of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.