Kevin McCarthy is having a rough go of it in his quest to become speaker of the House of Representatives. He didn’t come anywhere close to getting the votes he needed on the first or second ballots cast on Tuesday, and drifted even further away from the gavel on the third. McCarthy is desperate for help, which is why it was a little curious that Donald Trump, who has endorsed McCarthy for the role, didn’t try to rally support publicly as his top lackey in the House took L after L.
He finally did so on Wednesday morning. “REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT,” he wrote, referring to the 2022 midterms in which the GOP drastically underperformed expectations, thanks in part to Trump backing a series of comically unqualified candidates.
“Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB,” Trump added.
Wow, he might do a great job? How could such a ringing endorsement fail to sway the Freedom Caucus Republicans who have all but taken a blood oath to keep the gavel away from McCarthy? The nod feels even more tepid considering it comes the morning after Trump, in an interview with NBC News, declined to say whether he still supported McCarthy. “I got everybody calling me wanting my support,” he said. “But let’s see what happens and we’ll go — I got everybody calling, wanting my support. That’s all I can say. But we’ll see what happens. We’ll see how it all works out.”
Trump seems to think the Truth Social post will make a difference, as he reportedly sent the message out to at least some House members. It’s unlikely to matter, though, both because of how half-hearted it seems and because the former president’s stature in the GOP hasn’t been trending in the right direction. He’s largely been blamed for the party’s disastrous midterm performance after hand-picked candidates like Mehmet Oz, Herschel Walker, and Blake Masters bombed in high-profile races. His 2024 presidential announcement, which he delayed because of the midterm debacle, was a dud. He’s been holed up in Florida — where Ron DeSantis’ presidential prospects continue to grow — trotting out bizarre money-making schemes as his campaign reportedly struggles to raise money.
The Word of Trump is no longer gospel, even to Freedom Caucus members like Matt Gaetz who have burnished their brand worshiping at his feet. The House will vote for speaker again on Wednesday. Trump’s all-caps endorsement isn’t likely to move the needle. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if McCarthy loses even more support.