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- Former President Trump has claimed credit for helping Kevin McCarthy win the House speakership.
- However, several ardent conservatives told ABC that Trump had no real impact during the process.
- “President Trump had no influence on the votes, myself or any of my colleagues,” Rep. Bob Good said.
Former President Donald Trump relishes playing the role of a political kingmaker, having shaped the Republican field of candidates in countless races across the country for much of the past decade.
During Trump’s White House tenure and even after he left office, his endorsement was heavily sought by conservatives. And the former president kept ties with some of his most ardent Republican backers still in Congress.
So there was little surprise among politicos when Trump stated his influence boosted the House speakership candidacy of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, who went through 15 rounds of votes before winning the position he had long sought.
McCarthy’s candidacy enjoyed vast support among the GOP from the start, but a swath of roughly 20 conservatives — including Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, and Matt Rosendale of Montana — were not keen on a speakership from the California lawmaker.
However, Trump backed McCarthy’s bid and claimed credit for helping get the GOP leader over the finish line. In the end, he was placed in the speaker’s chair with a narrow 216-212 vote.
But many of the conservatives who were opposed to McCarthy are insistent that the former president had little influence over their decision to back the Californian or vote “present,” which allowed for an easier threshold of victory than the 218 votes that are normally required to secure the speaker’s gavel, according to ABC News.
“President Trump had no influence on the votes, myself or any of my colleagues,” Good told the news outlet when asked about the former president’s impact within the House Republican Conference.
“Saturday morning, it became clear that it was inevitable that Mr. McCarthy was going to become speaker, and I saw no reason to prolong that through the weekend,” he added.
However, McCarthy personally thanked Trump immediately after winning the speakership, stating that no one “should doubt his influence.”
Most notably, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was pictured during the speakership battle holding her phone with Trump on her line as she approached Rosendale, a staunch anti-McCarthy conservative, to try to get him to speak with the former president. He eventually voted “present” in the final ballot.
Rosendale told ABC News that Trump did not factor into his thinking on the matter.
“My decision was based on the voters of Montana and to support the constitution … I was meeting and listening to my constituents and my effort was always focused on making sure we had a much more open process,” he said.
Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who flipped to McCarthy in the final four votes, also told ABC News that Trump “didn’t have anything” to do with his shift to supporting the California lawmaker.
“In fact, I disagreed with him getting involved. This is a House function. We elect the speaker,” he said.
However, Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who flipped to McCarthy, told the news outlet that Trump “certainly had influence in the process,” calling the end result of the process a “win-win for our country and for our leadership.”