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McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On First Speaker Ballot. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 03, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What's the plan here?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, that was the anticipation. In fact, the McCarthy allies that I've been speaking with including members who just came up the floor say they had been expecting this to fall short of 218 votes on the first ballot, but how this ends is still anyone's guess. They still somehow think that McCarthy can get them despite the stiff loss here, 19 Republican votes. He needs to cut those defects down 15 more votes, he needs to win back. How does he get there? That is not clear because he has not been negotiating.

You see McCarthy on the floor right now just talking to Scott DesJarlais. He's a Republican of Tennessee. That is -- they're not in negotiations over what to change and the like. They're having a very amicable conversation. McCarthy is essentially done negotiating. Now, will he have to change that posture going forward? Perhaps. But at the moment, that is not what they plan to do.

Jim Jordan about to speak right now. The expectation is that he might signal his -- that tell his supporters to back Kevin McCarthy. Jordan is a close ally of McCarthy. They have developed a close tie over the years, and that has been a key source of alliance between Jordan and McCarthy. Now, will Jordan saved come vote for -- tell his supporters to vote for McCarthy? Potentially. Will that change the math? No. And that is the real issue here.

So, right now, we do expect after this vote is closed -- it's not officially closed right now. There's still some paperwork being done. Once that vote is officially closed, they will -- then they will can move on to that second ballot. We will see. Here's the Clerk of the House about to make an announcement here. But we will see them the second ballot takes place -- we'll see if anyone else is nominated.

Conservatives are planning to nominate potentially another person here on the second ballot. We'll see if that actually plays out here. But at the moment, Kevin McCarthy will almost certainly will fall short and the next round of voting. But at the moment, now it's time to step aside and just trying to grind it out for as long as possible.

COOPER: But, Manu, wouldn't Jordan have already known those folks are going to use -- vote for him and have -- wouldn't he have already had those discussions with those people saying you know what, just vote for McCarthy?

RAJU: You know, potentially, Anderson, a lot of this stuff kind of happened at the last minute. Lauren Boebert was one who voted yes for you voted for -- who voted Jim Jordan. She had been on the camp and maybe skeptical on McCarthy but has not explicitly said she would vote against McCarthy. Last night, she told me she has not officially said that she was against McCarthy.

So, there was really not a real clear sign of where some of these numbers would go. It was a sign more that they're not willing to support Andy Biggs, but they wanted to vote for someone who they aligned with ideologically. But Jordan has been made very clear that he has no interest in becoming a speaker.

And, Anderson, even if he were to be put up as a candidate here, he too would fall short of the 218 votes. And that is the real Republican dilemma here because McCarthy can't get 218, who can? Steve Scalise, I'm told by a number of Republicans also would fall short of 218 votes, the same concessions that McCarthy cut with that hardline group of members, some would have to be approved by the full House. A number of members who would swallow those concessions don't like those concessions say they would not support that with any other speaker candidates who leads to all sorts of problems here for Republicans going forward, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Manu, I would check back in with you. Now back to the team. Alyssa, does the former president -- former President Trump, does he have a role to play here?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, he's a major factor in the fact that -- think of -- think of this. Think of some of the races that Donald Trump weighed into the impeachment tenants, I call them, the 10 House Republicans who decided to vote for his impeachment.

He made sure every one of them lost their seat. Now, if I'm Kevin McCarthy, I'm wishing Jaime Herrera Beutler, John Katko, Peter Meijer, and so on are in the House today. Those are votes that would very likely be with McCarthy, kind of rock-ribbed moderates in many cases. But instead, you know, some of the more far-right type characters won this election cycle and that's just chipping away this majority.

I'm curious to see I used to work for Jim Jordan, Charlie, and I know him well, what he says here. I think he can flip some votes but the margin to me seems way too big to ever get Kevin to where he needs to be.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know how you get 15 to change their votes after they've gone so public. And I think you know Kevin has made as many accommodations as he can for these folks on the fringe. And they're still not there.


DENT: And at some point -- DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's interesting to

me to see the fighting spirit this morning. it's you know, after months and months as Alyssa points out, years of concessions, it's like, I surrender, now let's fight. I mean, it was a weird -- it's a weird turn of events. But it is.

John King mentioned this earlier. This is a microcosm of the problem of the Republican Party. You have a small vociferous part of the base that is wagging the dog here. And, you know, a big move would be for Republicans to say, you know what, I'm going to form a coalition in this Congress because we have to govern. But to do that, you're courting reprisals among the base. And I don't know that Kevin McCarthy or anyone's going to do that.

DENT: In 2015 when Kevin went down, and then Ryan wasn't able to ascend, I had Democrats approach me who were sent over by leaders to say, well, you know, if you get some votes, we'll help you find the rest and we started having those conversations.


I can see a coalition speaker. Now, it's not likely, it's not probable, but if you can't get 218 Republican votes, they may have to form a coalition with them.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hard to imagine who that would be.

DENT: I can't imagine doing it but --


DENT: If this goes on forever --

AXELROD: Or make enough, enough concessions and get rid of McCarthy, so that that group enough of the far-right group comes along with you.

MONDAIRE JONES, FORMER DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE, NEW YORK: I do want to focus a little bit on just the dynamics within the modern-day Republican Party, which I think would make it very difficult for anyone who had been minority leader for this past 117th Congress to emerge unscathed from that experience, and then still keeps a coalition together enough to become speaker in the 118th Congress. I mean, you either have to side with people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and upset your moderate members, or you have to go with the moderates and upset people like Marjorie Taylor Greene. You can't really have it both ways the way that these people are thinking about it.

AXELROD: But you know, Mondaire, they have a slim majority to the degree they make concessions to these folks. And they're an outsize voice in the next two years. You're going to lose your majority if you're the Republicans in 2024.

JONES: Of course.

GRIFFIN: Yes. JONES: That was the message that voters sent last November. So, if I'm sitting there and I'm in a swing district, and I'm a Republican, I'm thinking these guys are putting me in jeopardy now.


AXELROD: And a real leader has to sort of kind of seats that and tend to manage of them.

HENDERSON: McCarthy, I think, at some point, was betting on that. The moderates put enough pressure on the sort of hardliners but that didn't work. But if you're moderate, you're very nervous about this. You're nervous about not only McCarthy losing but McCarthy winning in some ways because if he wins, he's clearly going to be beholden to this hardline caucus because at some point he's going to have to start trading horses.

DENT: You know I used to use the term. No, I just say I was one of the leaders of the governing wing of the Republican Party. He was some of those hardliners who used to sneer at me when he said governance -- like governance, like push for that. I mean they're -- they just weren't about governance.


DENT: They just don't believe in it, some of them.


JONES: Well, they're excellent at -- they're excellent at campaigning. I mean Republicans are fantastic at campaigning for Congress and for other elected office. It may be setting aside for the year 2022. But when you come to actually have to govern and put together a coalition where you have far-right increasingly ascendant people within the party, who are taking on this outsize influence like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan, who is now trying to broker some agreement, by the way, I don't think it's in good faith. I think this is carefully choreographed.

I do not believe that Jim Jordan is not playing both sides. I mean, frankly, Kevin -- someone like a Kevin McCarthy is not ideologically aligned with someone like a Jim Jordan, who comes from the Freedom Caucus. And so, I think -- I think this may be all in furtherance of the ultimate, you know, a ballot that ultimately goes (INAUDIBLE)

DENT: But if you're anti-government, you're not going to be part of a governing coalition. And that's pretty clear.

COOPER: I want to get to Lauren Fox. Lauren, you've been watching Kevin McCarthy on the floor talking to other members. What have you even seen?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if you think about the moment that Kevin McCarthy is in right now not getting these votes on the first round of balloting, it's amazing really to watch him on the floor. He seems very upbeat. He seems like you're shaking hands with people who are coming, new members as well as their children.

You're also saying that he's really huddling with allies. He's not trying to go across the aisle and try to win over conservatives at this moment. He knows that they are standing against him. He's not trying to win them over by trying to have these side discussions, at least not right now. And maybe this is coming because after that meeting this morning, a conference that got very heated according to multiple sources we talked to, he doesn't feel like there's any goodwill at the moment to try to win them over.

But obviously, an amazing moment because when I've watched negotiations happen in the past in the Senate, in the House, when the votes aren't there, typically, what you see is leaders trying to work across the aisle, trying to find some kind of consensus, and you just aren't really seeing that in this moment with Kevin McCarthy, Anderson.

COOPER: Lauren, thanks very much. Back here in New York. Nia, I mean helped --


COOPER: this can go on.

HENDERSON: This is -- this can go on and on and on. I mean, this is a game of chicken at this point. You've got this hardline caucus that seems to be pretty united in their hatred. I mean, for lack of a better word of Kevin McCarthy wanting to see him go down to defeat. And McCarthy who wants to be a speaker, he has wanted this for a decade of his life. He's worked so hard to get here. He's made the argument --

COOPER: This has been his North Star.

HENDERSON: Hi dream. This has been his North Star. And he's made all sorts of concessions to get there. And at this point, he has been defeated on this first round and he just said he's going to go multiple and multiple rounds. The question is do moderates at some point get sick of this spectacle? And is there another candidate that could emerge who could get the 218?

GRIFFIN: And I'm actually just stunned by how roundly he went down. I thought it would be a much closer margin. And thinking of the dynamics of the leadership.


If you're Elise Stefanik, if you're Steve Scalise or even Patrick McHenry, this should have behind the scenes had a sense of what the whip count was, how poorly he do on the floor, and why we didn't do this behind closed doors. He lost 31 votes in the caucus meeting, so why was there not some discussion had to say, Kevin can't get it, who do we put up?

And again, it's why I say yes, the far-right is holding the House hostage in this moment, but so long as Kevin McCarthy is keeping himself in the race, he's keeping a consensus candidate from coming forward.

DENT: What happens to the rules that these guys have negotiated with McCarthy surrendered on everything including this motion to vacate like to those rules stay in place if he goes away? And who -- I mean I guess being a speaker of the House -- being a speaker of the House someone's going to want the job, but man, what a thankless job that will be.

How do you pass a rules package? That's the next vote after the speaker. I mean, if I'm one of the moderate guys, and I voted for McCarthy, I said, oh, those rules you negotiated, I'm against that. I'm going to vote against those rules that you need it to get --

JONES: But, Charlie, what if -- what if that is the price to get them to vote for an alternative candidate?

GRIFFIN: That's how you get a coalition speakership with the Democrats.


HENDERSON: It seems very unlikely.

DENT: Likely a ballot is going to be interesting. If McCarthy loses more votes, that's a really bad sign for him. If we go from 19 down to say 16 or whatever they think, OK, we can go to a third ballot and see if you can, you know, chip that number back down.


JONES: But that's really what they're hoping by putting Jordan up to nominate him on the second round just to try and get some of these people.

GRIFFIN: Even if he pulls it off, which is a major if, in this moment, I would predict this would be the shortest speakership in history.

DENT: Yes.

GRIFFIN: I mean where he's going to have we've got, you know, Farmville, NDAA, government funding, debt ceiling, all things that will require bipartisan votes. The second that he passes something with any Democrats, they're going to motion a (INAUDIBLE).

HENDERSON: He's going to compromise, weak leader, if he makes it.

DENT: Let's --

AXELROD: Can you be a governor or can you be a speaker if just -- if five people can get together and decide they want to challenge you?

JONES: Half of the power of the speaker is the fear that the speaker inspires with another people that if they go against what -- you know what she wants to do that there will be consequences. No one's going to feel that there will be consequences so long as five people can get together. I mean, there are five explicit no votes, well, now, there are 19 to Kevin McCarthy going into this. And so, it's just untenable that he had -- the idea that he would have any leverage to say nothing of the fact that a lot of people simply don't respect him. And it's not just members of the Freedom Caucus.

Yes. I just want to return to what Alyssa said though because we shouldn't lose focus on the fact that there are real consequences for the country in this if, for example, when the debt ceiling comes up, that the U.S. defaults on it -- the full faith and credit -- on its full faith and credit, that is a catastrophic outcome for the country. But these are the kinds of things that will be in play and whoever the speaker is going to have to decide, do I work with the Democrats on this? And if they do, then the five -- the five vote, the motion to vacate comes in and you have you know, chaos. It's a messy, messy situation.

COOPER: Yes. We're seeing Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik talking. Stay with us for whatever happens next in this extraordinary fight to be the House Speaker. The second vote, now early in the works, we'll cover it all after a quick break.


COOPER: All right, listen in.

CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: The House will be in order. The talliers agree and their tallies that the total number of votes casts is 434 of which the honorable Hakeem Jeffries of the state of New York has received 212.


The Honorable Kevin McCarthy of the State of California has received 203. The Honorable Andy Biggs of the state of Arizona has received 10. The Honorable Jim Jordan of the state of Ohio has received six. The Honorable Jim Banks of the state of Indiana has received one. The Honorable Lee Zeldin of the state of New York has received one. The Honorable Byron Donalds of the state of Florida has received one. No persons having received a majority of the whole number of votes cast by surname, a speaker has not been elected.

Following the procedure used by the House in 1923, and record it in canons precedent volume six section 24, the clerk is prepared to direct the Reading Clerk to call a roll a new. For what purpose does the gentleman from Ohio seek recognition?

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R-OH): All right, so I nominate Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

JORDAN: Thank you, Madam Clerk. I think we have three objectives this Congress, three fundamental things we have to get done in the 118th Congress. First, pass the bills that fix the problems. In two years' time, we have with -- we have a border that is no longer a border. We have a military that can't meet its recruitment goals. We have a bad energy policy, bad education policy, record spending, record inflation, record deaths, and a government that has been weaponized against, we, the people, against the very people we represent.

So, we need to pass legislation to address all that. And I hope my Democrat colleagues will join me. I really do. But I have my doubts. And if they don't, if Chuck Schumer says no, we're not going to take up that legislation that we pass, and if Joe Biden won't sign it, so be it. They'll have to -- they'll have to answer to the people in 2024.

Second, we can never ever let a bill like the one that passed 12 days ago, $1.7 trillion spending -- we can never ever let that kind of legislation pass again. We have to -- we have to pass a budget that makes sense. That's good, common sense, then do the 12 appropriation bills that recognize the people's money, not ours, and send it to the Senate and then stand firm on that legislation. And again, if they will take it up, and Joe Biden won't sign it, we can stand firm on a CR or something. We can have that fight, but we are not going to have what took place a week and a half ago ever happened again.

And then finally, third, and this is important. We got to do the oversight to the investigations --

JOHNSON: will the House be an order?


JORDAN: We have to do the oversight and the investigations that need to be done. This idea that bureaucrats who never put their name on a ballot but think they run the country who have assaulted our constituents' First Amendment liberties, they need to be held accountable. That has to happen We need to do it -- we need to do it in a way that's consistent with the Constitution, but we need to do it vigorously and aggressively. That is part of our duty as members of this body.


To my friends here on this side of the aisle, I would just say this. The differences we may have -- a difference between Joyce and Jordan or Biggs and Bacon, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and the left, which now unfortunately controls the other party. So, we had better -- we had better come together and fight for these key things. These three things. That's what the people want us to do.

And I think Kevin McCarthy is the right guy to lead us. I really do. I wouldn't be standing up here giving this speech. I came in with Kevin. We came in the same time 16 years ago. We haven't always agreed on everything, but I like his fight, I like his tenacity and I liked it.

I remember Kevin told me to actually wrote about this in a book. I remember Kevin told me and he said when -- the toughest times in life are when you get knocked down. The question is can you come back? And I've always seen him be able to do that. We need to rally around him, come together, and deal with these three things because this is what the people send us here to do.

My favorite scripture verses. Second Timothy four seven, Paul's the old guy giving advice to the young guy and he says fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith. I liked the verse because it's a verse of action, fight, finish, keep, not wimpy words, words that I think fit America. That's what the American people want us to do. They want us to fight for the things they care about, and they elected us to do.

And we should all remember -- we should all remember. Only about 12,000 people I've ever had the opportunity to do what we're doing today, sit in this body, serve in this Congress. It is a privilege. It is an opportunity. We owe it to them, the American people, the good people of this great country to step forward to come together, get a speaker elected so we can address these three things. I hope you'll vote for Kevin McCarthy and that's why I'm proud to nominate him for Speaker of the House.

JOHNSON: For what purpose does the gentleman from California rise?

REP. PETE AGUILAR, (D-CA): Thank you, Madam Clerk. We're witnessing history here today. I wasn't -- for half of that, I wasn't quite sure who the gentleman from Ohio was nominating, he was nominating himself.

JOHNSON: Is the gentleman rising to place a name and nomination?

AGUILAR: I am. I am, Madam Clerk. I am.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

AGUILAR: I just like to be afforded the same opportunity that the gentleman from Ohio took, Madam Clerk. Consider all this happened. The last time an election for Speaker went to a second ballot, Leader Jeffrey's beloved New York Yankees had not yet won a World Series. Consider all that's happened since then. The work that the body has entertained. The work that we've done for the people over that time.

We are unified behind a speaker who will continue that progress despite the chaos on the other side, Madam Clerk. We are going to stay here to get this done, we are unified and we are all going to support Hakeem Jeffries for speaker. The lead vote-getter -- the lead vote- getter in the last ballot. Madam Clerk, as chair of the Democratic caucus, I'm directed by the vote of the caucus to present for election to the Office of Speaker the House of Representatives for the 118 Congress, the name of the honorable Hakeem Jeffries, the representative-elect for the state of New York once again. And we will be unified once again in our support for him.

JOHNSON: For what purpose does the gentleman from Florida rise?

REP. MATT GAETZ, (R-FL): To nominate a candidate for Speaker of the House.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

GAETZ: Well, sometimes we have to do jobs that we don't really want to do. And sometimes we have to do jobs that we are called to do. And so, my colleagues, I rise to nominate the most talented, hardest-working member of the Republican conference who just gave a speech with more vision than we have ever heard from the alternative, I'm nominating Jim Jordan. Jim Jordan is humble, perhaps today humble to a fault.

Maybe the right person for the job of speaker of the house isn't someone who wants it so bad. Maybe the right person for the job of Speaker of the House isn't someone who has sold shares of themselves for more than a decade to get it. Maybe Jim Jordan is the right person for speaker of the house because he is not beholden to the lobbyists and special interests who have corrupted this place and corrupted this nation under the leadership of both Republicans and Democrats.


Maybe Jim Jordan would be the right person for speaker of the house because he wouldn't fight us when we try to get a term limits bill on the floor. Maybe Jim Jordan would be the right person because he wouldn't fight us when we try to put a balanced budget on the floor and vote for it. And maybe Jim Jordan is the right person because he would endorse the plan that was built by the Texas delegation to finally secure our border.

Mr. Jordan said in his nomination that there are certain bills that we have to pass to fix the problem. The challenge is the alternative has been someone voting for the very bills that have caused these problems. Mr. Jordan says that we cannot accept legislation like the omnibus, and I fully agree. And if Jim Jordan were Speaker of the House, if he were the leader of the Republican team, we wouldn't have that circumstance choking the economy of our country, increasing inflation, and diminishing the prospects of a better life for fellow Americans.

And finally, Mr. Jordan said we must engage in rigorous oversight. Every one of my Republican colleagues knows that the person who can lead that oversight effort who works on it every day who has the skill and the talent and the will is Jim Jordan. I'm nominating him and I'm voting for him.

JOHNSON: The Reading Clerk will call the roll.





ALLI: Adams.

ALLI: Jeffries. Aderholt.


ALLI: McCarthy. Aguilar.

AGUILAR: Hakeem Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Alford. REP. MARK ALFORD, (R-MO): Kevin McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Allen.

REP. RICK ALLEN, (R-GA): McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Allred.

REP. COLIN ALLRED, (D-TX): Hakeem Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Amodei.

REP. MARK AMODEI, (R-NV): (INAUDIBLE) my vote is Kevin McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Armstrong.


ALLI: McCarthy. Arrington.


ALLI: McCarthy. Auchincloss.

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS, (D-MA): Hakeem Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Babin.

REP. BRIAN BABIN, (R-TX): Kevin McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Bacon.

REP. DON BACON, (R-NE): McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Baird.

REP. JIM BAIRD, (R-IN): McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Balderson.


ALLI: McCarthy. Balint.

REP. BECCA BALINT, (D-VT): Hakeem Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Banks.

REP. JIM BANKS, (R-IN): McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Barr.

REP. ANDY BARR, (R-KY): McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Barragan.

REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN, (D-CA): Hakeem Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Bean of Florida.

REP. AARON BEAN, (R-FL): McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Beatty.

REP. JOYCE BEATTY, (D-OH): For the second time, I proudly cast (INAUDIBLE) for Hakeem Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Bentz.

REP. CLIFF BENTZ, (R-OR): Kevin McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Bera.

REP. AMI BERA, (D-CA): Hakeem Jefferies.

ALLI: Jeffries. Bergman.


ALLI: McCarthy. Beyer.

REP. DON BEYER, (D-VA): Jeffries.

ALLI: Jeffries. Bice.


ALLI: McCarthy. Biggs.

REP. ANDY BIGGS, (R-AZ): Jordan.

ALLI: Jordan. Bilirakis.