Advisers and allies to former President Donald Trump are expressing outrage after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that he thinks Trump can win in 2024, but does not know if he is the “strongest” candidate.
“I’ve been fielding calls on this since it happened,” one Trump ally told CNN, referring to McCarthy’s comments. “People are not happy. What was he thinking?”
During a CNBC interview Tuesday, McCarthy was pressed on Trump’s 2024 prospects and the multi-faceted legal issues facing the former president. “Can he win that election? Yeah he can,” McCarthy said. “The question is, is he the strongest to win the election – I don’t know that answer.”
McCarthy later attempted to walk back his comments, telling Breitbart that Trump is “stronger today than he was in 2016.”
During the CNBC interview, McCarthy also said he believes Trump can beat President Joe Biden. “Can Trump beat Biden? Yeah, he can beat Biden.”
Sources close to Trump believe the former president helped secure the speakership for McCarthy after urging House Republicans to vote for the embattled leader after McCarthy lost three straight speakership votes in January. Trump also made calls on McCarthy’s behalf ahead of the vote. McCarthy finally secured the gavel on the 15th ballot and immediately thanked the former President for his support.
Some advisers to the former President have in the past brushed off questions as to why McCarthy has not offered an endorsement of Trump in 2024, and instead dodged the question when posed by reporters.
“He has a lot of people to navigate if he he’s going to win the speakership,” one adviser told CNN in December when McCarthy avoided answering whether he would back Trump in his recently launched third bid for president.
McCarthy argued in the CNBC interview that Trump’s policies are good for the country when asked if it is good for the party to have Trump as the nominee.
“Republicans get to select their nominee. I think if you want to go sheer policy to policy, it’s not good for Republicans, its good for America. Trump’s policies are better, straightforward than Biden policy,” McCarthy said.