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Kevin McCarthy isn’t helping himself with his latest odd rhetoric

What’s behind Kevin McCarthy's odd public-relations offensive? The failed former House speaker appears to be auditioning for a role on Team Trump.


Six months after being stripped of his gavel, and four months after leaving Capitol Hill altogether, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has no interest in fading from public view. On the contrary, the California Republican appears quite eager to maintain a high public profile.

In February, for example, McCarthy appeared on Fox Business to condemn special counsel Jack Smith’s investigations into Donald Trump. A month later, McCarthy appeared on CBS and pretended that Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a policy wonk.

Earlier this month, McCarthy falsely claimed on Fox News that President Joe Biden tried to prevent Trump from running for a second term. In the same interview, the former speaker insisted that Democrats are being driven “crazy” by how much Americans love Trump.

McCarthy kept the public-relations offensive going over the weekend, sitting down with Fox’s Howard Kurtz and suggesting that Hillary Clinton didn’t concede the 2016 presidential election — despite the fact that Clinton called Trump to concede on Election Night and publicly acknowledged her defeat, which are the sort of basic details the former House speaker really ought to know.

But that’s not all he said. HuffPost noted:

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared to suggest on Sunday that President Joe Biden should meddle with the justice system in response to former President Donald Trump’s legal problems. ... McCarthy, who backed Trump’s 2020 election falsehoods and voted against the certification of Biden’s win, pushed for Biden to consider “fairness” in the upcoming election during an interview with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz.

McCarthy argued, “Why wouldn’t Joe Biden, caring about the voters, say, ‘You know what? This is wrong. If I had nothing to do with this, they should not have this trial right now so the American people could actually spend time on what the issues are.’ I think that’s even, that would be the real position for this Biden to take.”

It led the Fox host to note that it sounded as if the former House speaker wanted the incumbent Democratic president to “meddle with the justice system.”

McCarthy replied, “No. I want his opinion to be fair. I want his opinion to look for the American people in fairness.”

I’m not altogether sure what those words meant, though seeing the former speaker on television once again led to a related question: What, exactly, does McCarthy hope to achieve by constantly appearing in the media and clumsily peddling partisan talking points?

As it happens, I think we know the answer. In December, when the Californian formally endorsed Trump’s candidacy, he publicly conceded that he was willing to serve in Trump’s cabinet if the former president returns to the White House.

In March, during one of his Fox News appearances, McCarthy also suggested he was open to serving as Trump’s chief of staff in a prospective second term.

All of which is to say, it’s hardly a stretch to wonder whether the former House speaker is stumbling through unfortunate media appearances as part of an elaborate audition to serve on Team Trump.