“I’ve heard from members concerned about her ability to take over as conference chairperson to get the message out,” McCarthy told Fox News Tuesday morning. “We all have to work together, if we are able to win the majority. Remember, majorities are not given, they are won, and this is about the message of moving forward.”
McCarthy added that the question for the future is “what is our best step forward so that we can all work together instead of attacking each other”.
Speaking to an off-air Fox host, McCarthy was caught on a hot mic giving a more direct assessment of Cheney’s future. “I think she has real issues. … I had it with her. … I lost confidence in myself.” When asked if there would be a vote, he replied, “Well, somebody just has to make a motion, but I guess”, before he was interrupted by a cross-talk.
But Cheney shows no signs of backing down amid his growing feud with McCarthy.
“The question is whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6,” Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler said in a statement. “Liz won’t do that. That’s the problem.”
Cheney has no plans to step down as speaker of the House Republican Conference, two people familiar with the matter told CNN. This means that if she is ousted, it will have to be done by a conference vote.
A vote to oust Cheney from his leadership position seems almost certain and could take place as early as May 12, according to several senior Republican members and aides. Ultimately, it’s McCarthy’s call on whether the vote would take place that quickly. But a Republican member of the House predicted to CNN that it is only a matter of time before she is ousted from the leadership position.
“Liz left. Just a matter of how and when,” the GOP member said, taking the conference temperature, but insisted on anonymity to frankly discuss the sensitive issue.
Cheney was not notified until McCarthy spoke to Fox News on Tuesday – and the two have not spoken to each other since the morning interview, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Cheney’s future as Republican leadership looks increasingly bleak, with discussions now growing in GOP circles about her replacement in leadership as she has grown alienated in her conference amid her feud. with Trump.
It’s still unclear which candidates might emerge – and who would actually win because it would be a secret ballot and no candidate has yet announced that they will run. Cheney would have to step down first, or McCarthy could organize a quick vote to kick her out, although he has yet to say if he will.
But with Cheney, the most senior woman in the GOP leadership, Republicans are well aware of how he would appear to replace her with a man. So speculation is growing that a woman might be the best fit for the conference, attendants and lawmakers tell CNN.
Some Republican women who could be in the running include Jackie Walorski of Indiana, Elise Stefanik of New York, Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida and Ashley Hinson of Iowa.
Representatives Mike Johnson from Louisiana and Jim Banks from Indiana are also said to be potential candidates.
Multiple sources tell CNN that Stefanik has expressed interest in taking over as GOP conference chair and running for the job if Cheney is ousted. Two sources claim Stefanik is actively moving towards an offer and making calls to members. Its opening could put Republicans on track for Cheney’s quick start when lawmakers return to Washington next week.
The sources tell CNN that while awareness and discussions are still in their infancy, it is recognized that Stefanik would be a natural candidate for the job as someone who is both close to McCarthy and made a considerable fundraising on behalf of other party members, especially women candidates.
This story was updated with additional developments on Tuesday.
CNN’s Jamie Gangel contributed to this report.