As Kevin McCarthy faced day two of his fight to become Speaker of the House, he earned a rousing vote of confidence from Donald Trump.
The former president did more than support McCarthy as a speaker (which he already did months ago); he warned Republicans that not electing McCarthy would spell disaster for the Republican Party.
“VOTE FOR KEVIN,” Trump warned in all caps on his Truth Social platform Wednesday morning. “DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRUMP INTO A GIANT & GAZANT DEFEAT.”
And what happened? Not a single anti-McCarthy Republican did what Trump asked. In fact, the number of votes for McCarthy actually went down on the ballot after Trump’s statement, as Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., went from voting for McCarthy to voting “present.”
Afterwards, Spartz totally rejected Trump’s endorsement of McCarthy.
“I am an independent legislator,” she told reporters. “I am what my people say and the people who elected me.”
Hardline anti-McCarthy and Trump stalwart Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado not only ignored his warning — she called him to the House floor.
“Let’s stop with the slander and campaign tactics to get people to turn against us, even if my favorite president calls us and says we have to stop this, I think it actually needs to be reversed. The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you don’t have the votes and it’s time to step aside.”
Donald Trump’s inability to sway a single Republican vote says as much about Trump as it does about McCarthy.
The anti-McCarthy revolt has been led by some of the most fervent pro-Trump Republicans in the House. If Trump is powerless to sway even their votes, what power does Trump really have?
McCarthy worked hard to get Trump’s approval. He cultivated a close relationship with Trump while president and became the first Republican leader to visit Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House, posing a famous photo with Trump just three weeks after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. .
In a way, McCarthy’s strategy worked. Trump has consistently backed McCarthy’s bid for president, endorsing it even before Republicans won a majority last November.
Trump even called House Republicans to urge them to vote for McCarthy. But winning Trump’s support did not help McCarthy win the presidency.
As a close Trump adviser told ABC News, “To be brutally blunt, I’m not sure he moved a vote.”