The House GOP leadership may have been thrown into turmoil following Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s surprise announcement on Thursday that he was dropping out of the race to become the next House speaker. But Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he couldn’t care less.
Christie's campaign circulated an email Friday morning with the subject “Nobody cares who is going to be the next Speaker of the House,” painting the governor as a populist who simply wants congressional leaders to do something instead of focusing on political jockeying. Christie said as much during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Thursday.
“It may not be the most popular thing within my party to be criticizing the Republican Congress, but it needs to be done. I mean, it’s a joke down there. And now, they’re having this ‘Game of Thrones’ thing and are putting off an election for another couple of weeks,” he said. Christie continued, “I mean nobody cares. What they need to realize is ... in the country, nobody cares who the speaker of the House is going to be.”
The governor argued what Americans care about, from whoever becomes speaker, is that they “actually do something worthy of the position.” Christie—who has struggled to gain 2016 momentum and is currently in ninth place, according to an average of polling data surrounding the Republican presidential nomination – has argued on the campaign trail that he is the only adult in the room who is capable of rising above party infighting.
When it comes to the House leadership race, Christie has struck a much different tone than his GOP competitors. Republican front-runner Donald Trump tweeted after the news broke, “Great, Kevin McCarthy drops out of SPEAKER race. We need a really smart and really tough person to take over this very important job!”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on CNN offered McCarthy “kudos for putting others before himself.” And Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said at an event in Iowa that while he was surprised by the decision, he wasn’t going to insert himself into conversation about the pending vote. But he did praise Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, who is running, and said other candidates would likely emerge.
Citing divisions within his party, McCarthy made his announcement just as House Republicans were meeting to presumably nominate him for the speakership. Retiring House Speaker John Boehner said he’ll stay at his post until the lower chamber of Congress selects someone to replace him.