According to a report from Time's Lissandra Villa, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could be looking at reclaiming the House leadership after the 2022 midterm elections -- or it could all come tumbling down as he tries to appease both Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers who want to put the ex-president in the past.
Traditionally the party not controlling the White House picks up House seats in the midterms and 2022 looks no different except for the fact that Trump from his Mar-a-Lago resort is attempting to play kingmaker and take out some Republican House members who displeased him which could complicate matters for McCarthy.
As Villa wrote, "To regain the majority next year, McCarthy has to hold together a splintered party reckoning with its future in the post-Trump era. One faction of the GOP wants to move past a divisive former President who espoused racist views and misinformation. But most of the party has embraced Trump and all that comes with him," adding that McCarthy has promised a "big tent" for all comers.
However, as the report states, "conversations with more than a dozen current and former House members, GOP strategists, Republican staffers and other party observers offer a portrait of a politician with a win-at-all-costs approach," with Villa reporting, "But in the long run, McCarthy's win-at-all-costs style could backfire—for the party and for the nation."
This has McCarthy critics "frustrated" because they believe he wants to keep Trump as an integral part of the party, which they do not believe is the path back to reclaiming power.
According to McCarthy's mentor, former California Rep. Bill Thomas (R), "My hope is … that the Kevin who spoke during the impeachment, notwithstanding the fact that he didn't vote for it, will be the Kevin leading the Republicans on the floor of the House, and not the [Kevin who had] been supporting, nurturing the lies of the President."
Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford (R) echoed those sentiments, explaining, "I think that there's tremendous brand erosion over the long term when you suck up to somebody that doesn't represent the ideals that allegedly your party stands for."
McCarthy's dilemma is how to straddle his Trump leanings with members -- such as Reps Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) -- who want a post-Trump party.
"For all McCarthy's attempts to maintain one, a big tent can be unwieldy. Over the past four months alone, McCarthy has had to face the challenge of disciplining [Rep. Marjorie Taylor] Greene, which he didn't; of defending a leadership challenge to Cheney, which he first approached tepidly, and then by not answering the question when he was recently asked whether Trump should cut out the attacks against her; and of responding to the scandal around Rep. Matt Gaetz, a fellow Trump supporter that the New York Times reported is being investigated over whether he engaged in sex trafficking," the report states. "Out west, some old allies are growing tired of McCarthy's strategy of walking the line."
According to Rob Stutzman, a California-based GOP strategist, McCarthy's task is likely doomed to failure.
"People in Sacramento who have seen him adopt such support for the former President, defending the politics of the former President, adopting some of the issues of the former President— it's a bit disorienting compared to his time here in the state House," he explained. "I think you can attribute all that to [McCarthy's] pragmatism—or at least what he sees as pragmatism—in trying to hold together what may be a Republican coalition that cannot be held together."
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