House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cast doubt Sunday on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s chances of being elected speaker if Republicans re-take the majority.
During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi was asked by anchor Dana Bash whether McCarthy, R-Calif., “has what it takes to be speaker of the House.”
“Let’s just get through the election, OK?” Pelosi fired back. “They haven’t won yet… and it’s not up to me to make any evaluations about what their possibilities are.”
“You are uniquely qualified to understand what it takes to be speaker of the House,” Bash pressed. “Does he have it?”
“Why would I make a judgment about something that may or may not ever happen?” Pelosi responded. “No, I don’t think he has it, but that’s up to his own people to make a decision as to how they want to be led or otherwise.”
McCarthy announced his speakership bid last week after Republicans failed to secure the “red wave” that many predicted in the midterm elections.
“I will be a listener every bit as much as a Speaker, striving to build consensus from the bottom-up rather than commanding the agenda from the top-down,” he wrote in a letter to Republicans. “That means putting the right people in the right spots and harnessing the power of our entire conference.”
It’s not yet clear if McCarthy will face any serious challenge for speaker. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and GOP Vice Chair Mike Johnson have been floated by the Freedom Caucus as possible challengers, but both have voiced support for McCarthy’s speakership.
As of Sunday morning, Republicans had 211 seats and Democrats had 204, leaving 20 still in play. Once decided, the entire House will vote on electing the speaker, who must have an outright majority – 218 votes out of 435.