House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is predicting the GOP will retake Congress in the midterm elections and he’ll be the next speaker.
Just hours before polls open, McCarthy vowed Republicans will win “at least enough to win the majority” and said “anywhere over 20 (seats) is a red wave.”
He refused to be drawn into the possibility that he could wind up in a messy battle with fellow Republicans for the speaker’s gavel, including potentially members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus and strident backers of former President Donald Trump.
“I’ll believe (I’ll) have the votes for speaker,” McCarthy said in the interview with CNN. “I think Trump will be very supportive.”
McCarthy said the first priority of a Republican Congress would be to strengthen security at the southern border.
“The first thing you’ll see is a bill to control the border first,” McCarthy said. “You’ve got to get control over the border. You’ve had almost 2 million people just this year alone coming across.”
He shrugged off questions about whether the GOP would also seek to enact immigration reform.
McCarthy downplayed Republican promises to cut aid to Ukraine, saying that the GOP wants more transparency about assistance to the Western ally battling a Russian invasion.
He sounded a cautious note about rushing to impeach President Joe Biden as some far-right lawmakers hope to do.
“We will never use impeachment for political purposes,” McCarthy asserted.
He said the GOP would seek “accountability” from the Biden White House on a long list of Republican sore points, including the abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan and how the COVID-19 pandemic started, even though that took place when Trump was in the Oval Office.
Polls predict Republicans will win the House, but vary widely on the margin. The party of a first-term president historically suffers broad losses in midterm elections.
McCarthy sought to dodge questions about exactly how many seats he hopes the GOP will win in Tuesday’s election.
A bigger-than-expected Republican House majority might smooth his path to becoming the next speaker. If the party has only a narrow edge, it could give MAGA hardliners power to hand power to one of their own.