Washington — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday said he doesn’t know if former President Donald Trump is the “strongest” Republican candidate for president, a rare crack in McCarthy’s robust support for the GOP front-runner.
McCarthy made the remark during an interview on CNBC Tuesday morning, in response to questions about Trump’s legal battles and electability.
“Can he win that election? Yeah, he can,” McCarthy said. “The question is, is he the strongest to win? I don’t know that answer. But can somebody, anybody beat Biden? Yeah, anybody can beat Biden. Can Biden beat other people? Yeah, Biden can beat them. It’s on any given day.”
McCarthy said the the indictments against the former president make the situation “complicated” but could also help him politically.
Some other Republicans have publicly questioned whether Trump is the candidate best positioned for 2024, but McCarthy has consistently defended the former president. Last week, he said heto “expunge” Trump’s two impeachments in the House.
The two wereafter the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, with McCarthy saying in a speech on the House floor that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” They reconciled weeks later, when McCarthy visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and posed for pictures.
McCarthy’s assessment that any Republican candidate could beat President Biden is not one that is shared by most Republican primary voters, who still see Trump as the party’s best shot to reclaim the White House. A CBS News poll earlier this month found that 62% ofsaid Trump could “definitely” beat Mr. Biden. Fifty percent said the same for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s nearest rival in the polls. No other candidate elicited more than 20% who said they could definitely beat the president.