Jan 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is seen speaking during a news conference.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The latest proof: McCarthy's digital director, Caleb Smith, sent a blast email to a group of GOP communications staff Saturday afternoon asking them to show their support for his boss.

  • The subject line read: "{GOP-New-Media} Retweet Request," according to a copy of the email obtained by Axios.
  • Smith wrote: "HuffPost and the Blue Checks have been out in full force today trying to distort Leader McCarthy's words in an effort to divide America even further. They deserve to be called out. Would greatly appreciate your help in pushing back by retweeting this: https://twitter.com/GOPLeader/status/1353057765015449610."

What they're saying: "We're eating sh*t for breakfast, lunch and dinner right now," a McCarthy aide told Axios. The aide requested anonymity to speak frankly about his boss's situation.

Pressure is mounting on McCarthy financially, politically and publicly.

  • Corporate donors are freezing him out for challenging the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6.
  • The media is lampooning him for initially saying "the president bears responsibility" for the Capitol attack but amending that last week to say, “I don’t believe he provoked it, if you listen to what he said at the rally."
  • McCarthy also got hit for saying during an interview this weekend that "everyone" bears responsibility for the political temperature in the country.
  • Meanwhile, the pro-Trump wing of his conference is angry with him for not condemning Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) more forcefully after she voted to impeach Trump.

Driving the news: McCarthy explained his comments on Thursday during an interview this weekend with van Susteren. He also signaled limits to his support for Cheney, the conference chair and No. 3 House Republican.

  • "Look, I support her, but I also have concerns," he said, adding there are “a lot of questions” she needs to address during a conference meeting later this week.
Go deeper