WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed Paul Ryan as speaker of the House, promising to keep a conservative message and a strong check on President Donald Trump.
The 43-year-old lawmaker said he would run for the job despite strong odds, but the moment was shadowed by Trump’s leverage over House Republicans. A rough outline of the president’s agenda and bold promises have put pressure on Republicans to support him.
When Ryan stunned GOP leaders by announcing last week that he would not seek a seventh term, they began to openly jockey for the speaker’s post, including McCarthy, majority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and conservative Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
“Last year, one of the biggest differences between the parties was that Democrats said that President Trump was going to be a one-term president,” McCarthy said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “Today, the Democrats are trying to take him down in November. And in doing so, they’re not just taking down President Trump, they’re taking down their vision of America.”
But in the hours leading up to McCarthy’s announcement, polls showed growing strength in the midterm elections for congressional Democrats and Ryan, R-Wis., indicated he was not set on retiring in January.
On the other hand, there is considerable speculation that the president, who controls the Republican agenda, will have less leverage in the capital as his party loses seats in Congress.