Paul Ryan backs McCarthy for House GOP leadership role

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan endorses Rep. Kevin Mc Carthy as his successor

His tenure was largely overshadowed by the ascension of Donald Trump to the Presidency, and due to Trump's unpopularity the Democrats have a seven point lead in the generic congressional ballot.

"We all think that Kevin is the right person", Ryan, R-Wis., said in an interview that will air Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press".

"I think we all believe that Kevin is the right person".

The move helps elevate the No. 2 House Republican in a bid to replace Ryan and potentially heads off a messy and protracted leadership battle before the midterm elections. Initially Ryan said he wouldn't talk about endorsing someone until then. Ryan has said he will serve as speaker through the year, though some in the party want him to leave earlier. "Second, if we elect a Democratic majority to the House, the Speaker will be a Democrat".

Ultimately, Ryan's endorsement is symbolic, but it also carries a lot of weight among rank-and-file House Republicans.

Ryan predicted that McCarthy could get enough votes from his caucus because the Republican Party has proven it can work together to pass tax reform. But that doesn't solve the GOP's problem of who will succeed Ryan, if not McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy, the current Majority Leader, is seen as the favorite, and has the support of the White House and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana).

Of course, there is a good chance that neither Scalise nor McCarthy will get to hold the speaker's gavel. GOP members in leadership positions are vying to replace him already.

Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh was also supportive of McCarthy taking over the role. "I've never run against Kevin and wouldn't run against Kevin", Scalise said Thursday on Fox News.

The leader of the conservative group, Rep. Mark Meadows, has said relations with McCarthy have since improved. Jordan co-founded the House Freedom Caucus and his entry into the race would further scramble the coalitions that McCarthy and Scalise have been building.

McCarthy rose quickly through the ranks after winning his first election in 2006 and became minority leader in 2014.

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