Former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday made a direct appeal to House Republicans to support Representative Kevin McCarthy of California for speaker, after Mr. McCarthy lost three successive votes for the post amid a hard-right rebellion led by some of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress.
“Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY,” Mr. Trump, who is running for president, wrote on his website, Truth Social.
On Tuesday, as the California Republican suffered defeat after humiliating defeat on the House floor, Mr. Trump had refused to reiterate his endorsement for Mr. McCarthy, telling NBC News’ Garrett Haake, simply, “We’ll see what happens.”
Mr. Trump and Mr. McCarthy then spoke Tuesday night, after the embarrassing once-in-a-century debacle on the House floor and after Mr. Trump made his tepid comment on NBC.
After the conversation, Mr. Trump arrived at a more full-throated statement reiterating his backing for Mr. McCarthy, though he still tempered his praise.
“REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT,” he wrote. “IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT. Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB — JUST WATCH!”
Whether Mr. Trump can sway enough of the holdouts who are opposing Mr. McCarthy is an open question, and one that will test Mr. Trump’s ongoing influence over the House Republican conference, a wing of which has crafted itself in his image, as he mounts his third presidential campaign.
Despite Mr. Trump’s earlier endorsement of Mr. McCarthy and his effort to whip votes for him ahead of the speaker vote, 20 Republicans still voted against Mr. McCarthy. The most aggressive McCarthy detractor, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, is also one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress. Mr. Trump’s support for Mr. McCarthy has done nothing to temper his opposition.