House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan whispers to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy during the House Republican leadership media availability after the House Republican Conference meeting, March 19, 2013. 
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

Paul Ryan endorses Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy may be taking heat over controversial remarks he made about the Congressional committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack, but that’s not stopping Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin from endorsing him to become the next House Speaker.

Ryan, in an op-ed for Town Hall, said on Sunday that he’s backing McCarthy for the high-profile position, which will become vacant at the end of October when sitting House Speaker John Boehner retires.

“Kevin’s record in Congress demonstrates a rare combination of principle, leadership, and effectiveness. I have no doubt that his experience and skills make him the best choice for Speaker,” wrote Paul, chairman of the Ways and Means committee and former vice presidential candidate. He also described McCarthy as a “principled leader” who “doesn’t shy away from the important fights.” 

Initially, after Boehner announced he was stepping down, Paul was considered a possible successor, but the congressman said he wasn’t interested in the post.

Paul’s support of McCarthy comes as the former majority whip comes under scrutiny for suggesting the investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack was political in nature, even bragging that Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers were taking a hit because of it. He later backtracked on his remarks but that hasn’t stopped some conservative groups from launching a “Fire McCarthy” effort. 

McCarthy, Boehner’s deputy who is still considered the odds-on favorite, will face competition from Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah who announced on Sunday that he’ll take on McCarthy for House Speaker.

Chaffetz, who chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, painted himself as an outsider and argued on “Fox News Sunday” that he can better “bridge the divide” between moderate and far-right GOPers.

Chaffetz, in reference to McCarthy, said “You don’t just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team. That doesn’t signal change.”