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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Jordan says He'll Run for Speaker after McCarthy Ousted; Republicans Scramble to Find New House Speaker; The Raise and Fall of Rep. Kevin McCarthy; Ukraine Funding in Limbo Amid U.S. Congress Chaos; Republicans Look for new Speaker after McCarthy Ousted; One More Thing. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 04, 2023 - 11:00 ET
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KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: For the first time in history, there's no Speaker of the House who wants the job, Kevin McCarthy's
historic removal and the scramble to replace him. Plus, how did we get here? We're going to take a look at McCarthy's rocky rise to Republican
And where do we go from here? I'll ask him McCarthy supporter, Representative Kelly Armstrong ahead. Hello, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt to
our viewers watching here in the United States and around the world. It's 11 am in Washington, Wednesday, October 4, 397 days until Election Day.
This is today's "State of the Race".
And because it's another one of these kinds of days, we are going to start with breaking news on Capitol Hill where Ohio Republican Jim Jordan says
he's running for Speaker of the House. The House Judiciary Chair says he has strong support as Republicans look to choose their next leader.
In the past, Jordan had consistently ruled out running for the top job. This all comes after Republicans, rebelled against their own and of course
it has meant that for the first time in history, there is no current Speaker of the House. This is not politics as usual. And of course, the
entire House leadership team is in limbo.
In addition to Jordan, Louisiana Steve Scalise is calling colleagues to gauge support for a bid. One of those colleagues told CNN, "He's getting
good support already". For the latest on all of this there's no one better than CNN, Manu Raju, who is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, this is big news
that Jordan is going to do this. How does this play out behind the scenes especially it mean it's a headlong confrontation with Steve Scalise now?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is going to be a week long battle behind the scenes will probably not see a lot of public
campaigning, the effort to win over his colleagues will be about securing commitments telling them what he would do as Speaker and trying to convince
the divide very bitterly divided House Republican Conference to all get behind them.
But it's going to be a complicated task. And there's no sure bet to win this race because of the fact that this will be a contested race. Almost
certainly we do expect Steve Scalise, the number two currently and the House Republican hierarchy to run for the seat in for the Speakership as
There could also be some other candidates who might yet emerge. There's another key Congressman Kevin Hern, who is a member of the Chairman of the
Republican Study Committee, which is the biggest conservative group in the House. He is gauging support as well.
There are others who could also come along, but the challenge for all these candidates is going to be the votes. Do they have the votes? They could run
into the same issue that Kevin McCarthy did back in January where it took him 15 bowels to become a Speaker, why?
Because even after the Republican Conference chooses nominee, which were expected to be next week, a majority of the conference we have to vote to
pick his nominee for Speaker than the full House has to vote. The House is narrowly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats will vote for Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. Republicans will vote for their nominee, but just for Republicans is all the Republican
nominee can afford to lose if he or she were to lose five or more. That could be enough to undercut their bid to become Speaker, as we saw with
Kevin McCarthy, and one reason why he is no longer Speaker.
He lost just eight Republicans on that historic vote to oust him from the Speakership. So that means that the new Speaker will have to make a number
of promises Kasie, to try to get members on board kidding. But those promises may conflict with other ideological groups within the House GOP.
So, so many questions ahead as the Republican Party try to pick up his pieces here, Kasie.
HUNT: Right, yes, no. Can I just ask you big picture on Jim Jordan. I mean, this was a guy who was part of the founding of this Freedom Caucus that has
caused all of this arguably. It was the precursor to it was a leading indicator for how we ended up with Donald Trump. He is someone who has
moved more into a mainstream role.
We're seeing him here, as you know, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was not the one acting against Kevin McCarthy here. Matt Gaetz was leading
that charge. But he still has all of this, you know, very intense partisan. I don't want to call it baggage. But he's really viewed as a very
pugnacious fighter on Capitol Hill.
He's leading this inquiry into Hunter Biden, how does all of that play out here on the hill? I mean, does that and how does it set up in terms of
Democrats, the White House trying to deal with him will Democrats you know, ruin the decision to cast out Kevin McCarthy if he gets the gavel?
RAJU: Yes, that can certainly be the case we would see if he gets the gavel, what that would mean for how the House will move ahead and what kind
of policy and ideological agenda how that would be shaped by his own ideology it is because his views of the world are different than Kevin
He is much more conservative than Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy aligned himself with those far right members of his own conference. So perhaps it wouldn't
be a whole lot of difference. But we'll see if that actually comes to put to take shape. Because as the Speaker of the House, that is, of course, the
most important position in all of Congress.
And certainly in the House, they make the decision on what to bring to the floor of the agenda, all the rest, and depending on who the Speaker is,
will affect what policy is will can actually become law affecting lives of Americans and people around the world. So Kasie here, we'll see if that
actually happens. Jordan is the Speaker, but a long ways to go, Casey.
HUNT: Right, for sure. All right, CNN's Manu Raju, thank you very much, my friend. I really appreciate your time. All right, let's dive into all of
this with today's panel. We've got Republican Strategist, Doug Heye. Former Communications Director for the Republican National Committee and his other
credentials those are also relevant to this conversation, which we'll get into in a second.
CNN Political Commentator, Paul Begala, who served as a Top Adviser to Former President Bill Clinton, and Molly Ball, Senior Political
Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Welcome all. I'm very happy to have you on this very momentous news day. Doug, I am going to start with
DOUG HEYE, U.S. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes -- .
HUNT: Because just for you know, for our viewers who may not be as familiar with kind of where you come from? You really experienced the beginning of
this phenomenon that we saw unseeded Speaker yesterday, up close from the very beginning when you worked for Eric Cantor.
For people who don't know who may not be remembering Cantor's role. He was somebody who lost to a MAGA candidate before they were called MAGA and got
thrown out of leadership. It was extraordinarily unexpected. You saw it up close. What do you see? I mean, let's stick with Jordan's bid for a second.
Since this is literally just breaking in the last few minutes. What does it say that he Jim Jordan is now suddenly a contender for Speaker of the
House? I mean, that is a stunning transition from where --
HEYE: Well it's not just a contender but a legitimate contender.
HEYE: Very well could win and Steve Scalise used to run the Study Committee. He also has very serious conservative credentials, but could be
outflanked on his right. The three lines between Dave Brat who be, Eric Cantor, and I try to quite often be the word fight.
They talk about fighting over and over again. But they don't necessarily have a goal. So when the vote was gaveled in yesterday, a member cried on
the House floor. What's next? There's no Plan B for a lot of these members. And if you're Jordan, you're going to want to demonstrate to these members
that you have a very firm Plan B and that you can be successful.
HUNT: Yes, I mean, Paul Begala way in here. I mean, you've seen it all.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, but I worked for President Clinton, I worked for the House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, who was
Democrats and you've seen it also I have seen and that was the beginning of the Gingrich revolution, which we thought was a bunch of bomb throwers. I
do think though.
HUNT: -- he's like tame compared to what we have today, right?
BEGALA: But to call Matt Gaetz in the crowd of eight, the gang of eight to call them conservative or even ultra-conservative, I think is wrong.
They're not conservative. They're nihilists. They have brought low, the Speaker of the House, they seem to be interested in the politics of self-
And the iron law for a majority is protector majority makers, Democrats on the front line members. They're usually the most moderate members from the
most moderate districts and when I worked in the House Majority Leader office when you worked in leadership. You woke up every morning thinking,
how are my moderates doing Kevin McCarthy woke up every morning saying how am I nihilists doing? How am I going to chaos caucus doing?
HUNT: Because if he didn't he was going to be out of a job.
BEGALA: But Jim Jordan and I can just tell you as a Democrat. Democrats will retake the House because they will run against the nihilist chaos
extremist. Scalise doesn't come across that same way. He's just as conservative that's really it's not about conservative. It's about
destruction, as an ethos rather than conservatism, which used to be about preserving institutions.
HUNT: And let's pull this out for a second for people who may, who don't follow this stuff the way we do don't watch C span I spend many hours of my
life watching C span. Steve Scalise has been the number two in the House for many years. McCarthy's team has been worried that he might know try to
assert McCarthy a different turn.
Scalise never has. He has stayed loyal to McCarthy. He also is someone who has been through quite a few personal challenges. He was shot at
congressional baseball practice, and you know recovered from that in a very, I mean, honestly, I think people on all sides of the aisle were
incredibly impressed with his grace and strength through that he's currently battling cancer.
He is someone who as Paul notes, he actually does have good relationships across the aisle, even if nobody you know publicizes that. Molly, it's a
very different profile. He's also kind of a creature of the Old School House of Representatives right?
He views kind of the leadership roles in there as in a way that would be more familiar to you guys working, you know, decades ago, Jim Jordan is in
many ways the embodiment of the new way of doing it. And it is, I think, potentially appealing to people like Matt Gaetz. I mean, Molly, how do you
see kind of that tension playing out over the next week?
MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the problem is whoever wants to be Speaker has to get 218. And so they have
to get some unity of all of these factions that we're talking about, right? It's not enough to get you know, McCarthy had the support of 200
So he had the vast majority of the conference. So someone who is viewed as a McCarthy ally, like a Scalise, who was occasionally seen as a threat to
McCarthy, but was mostly on the same page, and I think, is viewed if anything is as more policy focused than McCarthy but with a similar
strength in the relationship department.
Someone like Jordan, who's much more, as you said, on the sort of MAGA page, you have people talking about a Speaker Donald Trump say what you
will about Donald Trump, he is the only unifying figure in the Republican Party. He is the figure who all of them agree on.
There are no never Trump errs left in the House Republican conference, certainly not vocal ones. And so that doesn't even seem that crazy. But you
know someone could have the support of 200 Republican members and still fall short of the Speakership. And that's what we saw McCarthy go through
And that's what's going to be the problem for all of these candidates is it's not enough to be a factional candidate. It's not enough even to
represent the vast majority of House Republicans. And you know, someone like Matt Gaetz, as much as you know, he is I think, widely hated in the
conference for stirring up all this trouble.
BALL: He is in a position still to play Kingmaker in some ways, because to get there somewhere, you have to have someone who can get everyone.
HUNT: So here is one question. And because I actually had this question when Manu was talking to and Doug, I'm interested in your take on this.
Yes, it's true. They need to a team. But the reality is, most of the time these fights are actually fought inside the conference behind closed doors.
There's a vote inside the conference, and then there's an agreement, OK, we're all going to go out onto the floor.
HUNT: And we're all going to vote for the same person, right? And it just it the only time we this is the first time I covered a Speaker who had
votes, like this was Kevin McCarthy. And it was against Democrats.
It wasn't as though there was somebody else standing up from his own party, right? I mean, do you think there is in any world a situation where we see
Scalise first Jordan on the floor because I feel like that's going to be dispensed with before we get that foreign.
HEYE: When you're whipping for a vote. There's an old adage that the only vote that you can truly count on as the person tells you, they're
definitely not voting for you. And the way this process works is yes, the House Republican Conference will have a meeting and they'll have a vote.
It's a secret ballot vote. And I had a member today remind me secret ballot and what that means they can say to Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise, I'm
voting for you, or I'll vote for you on the second or third ballot, because there may be multiple ballots, and then what that means for the House floor
this could get even rockier, believe it or not.
HUNT: Yes, it could. It's going to be quite a ride for the next week. Again, with no Speaker, no empowered Speaker of the House of
Representatives, we have someone who can simply gavel them in, gavel them out and start the vote for Speaker. All right coming up, we're going to
take a look back at Kevin McCarthy's rise and fall the forces that worked with him and against him, a very fascinating and poorly ended tale of
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race", we're going to keep looking ahead at what's next in just a moment. But given the historic nature of
what we just saw unfold, I do want to take a brief look back because I've been covering Kevin McCarthy for more than a decade since he was an
ambitious young congressman, or excuse me, a young gun.
He's pictured here with Eric Cantor, who we were talking about who was thrown out of office by MAGA forces before they were called MAGA. And Paul
Ryan who rose to become Speaker before deciding to quit, rather than to deal with the forces that ultimately pushed McCarthy out.
That's quite a piece of Republican history that picture. McCarthy's first chance at the gavel actually came way back in 2015, when the House was
investigating Hillary Clinton's role in the Benghazi attack. And he revealed that investigation for what it was. Here's what McCarthy said on
Fox News at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a
select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's un-trustable, but no one would have known any of that
had happened had we not fought.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree that something good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: The use of the word on trustable is very interesting considering what we just saw unfold yesterday. But those remarks that they were then and
they were made now incredibly revealing in terms of telling us how Kevin McCarthy thinks about the world. Our politics were different than and
saying that was enough to make him unpalatable to toxic to become Speaker.
That's when Ryan ascended to the Speakership. But of course, McCarthy's dream of becoming Speaker didn't die. He was serving as Majority Leader, as
Minority Leader excuse me on January 6, 2021, when the chamber was attacked by a mob, egged on by President Trump. A week later, some of the capital's
glass still lying broken on the floor, McCarthy went down to the House floor and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when
he saw what was unfolding and the President's immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact finding
commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: A lot of people at the time heard those remarks and thought that they were very courageous. But what would happen next is, what allowed him to
ultimately become Speaker and then eventually played a key role in his downfall yesterday, because just weeks after he said that on the House
floor, he made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, and he posed for this picture.
Later, he refused to cooperate with a formal investigation into the events of January 6. So this move endeared him enough to conservatives that it
allowed him to eventually win the Speaker's gavel. Trump didn't try to stop that. After a marathon 15 votes in January that of course, was his first
showdown with this man, Matt Gaetz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): You only earn the position of Speaker of the House if you can get the votes.
Mr. McCarthy doesn't have the votes today, he will not have the votes tomorrow, and he will not have the votes next week, next month next year.
And so one must wonder, Madam Clerk, is, this an exercise in vanity? For someone who has done the math, taking the counts and is putting this
institution through something that absolutely is avoidable?
MCCARTHY: That was easy. I never thought we'd get up here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: That of course, McCarthy rebuking Gaetz, as he was there in the Speaker's Chair for the first time, but what it took for him to win the
gavel, the promise to Gaetz, around the motion to vacate, but also at photo with Donald Trump is what made it impossible for him to keep it because
when he and his allies appealed yesterday to Democrats to try and save McCarthy.
What do you think it was that they remembered? They remembered this, and they decided, well, McCarthy's words short didn't mean much then. And the
rest, as they say, is history. We are back now with our panel. Doug Heye, Kevin McCarthy, as you know, politician person. What kind of leader was he?
And what about that led to what we saw yesterday?
HEYE: I think you define him one word, its ambition. I first met Kevin, in 1996. He was District Director for Bill Thomas, longtime member of Congress
from Bakersfield. And he was seen as a riser as a staffer, and became an assemblyman, a member of Congress and shot up leadership faster than
anything we've ever seen in congressional politics.
He was destined to get this role, but in doing so, obviously, foretold his own undoing as well. And the two clips that you played of Kevin, you know,
to me sort of tell the story of what happened when he made the comment about the mid Ghazi committee sort of saying the quiet part out loud.
It was a disaster. It was a disaster for Republicans. And Kevin does a lot of TV thinking that he's his own best advocate. And then he's always going
to do well, fast forward to just this past Sunday on CBS This Morning, going out being on my best messenger. He did his undoing by ticking off
every congressional Democrat in that meeting -- appearance.
HUNT: -- and Molly Ball. That it's almost like he didn't know the audience that he was talking to in that, what Doug is talking about there. I mean, I
found this to be true also of McCarthy that he was trying to always tell you what you wanted to hear, right? And when he was raising money that
worked really well, but when he was actually in charge, it turned out it was hard to say those things because people get really mad if you didn't
BALL: Yes, I mean, I had a House Republican staffer, who knew McCarthy really well said to me once Kevin superpower is he doesn't believe in
HUNT: I felt something more about that --
BALL: And it really, in fact, we should give McCarthy some credit for surviving as long as he did in this role, which many people thought he
wouldn't even make it this far. He succeeded in getting the debt ceiling raise. That was a big -- . Well, he succeeded in winning the Speakership.
First of all, and the other night after those 15 votes, he succeeded in getting the debt ceiling raised, and he did succeed in getting this
temporary government spending bill passed. So he did accomplish some things in his short Speakership in what I think is widely viewed to be sort of
structurally an impossible job just because of the way it's set up.
And because of all the concessions he made, but as you said, because he's always willing to tell people what they want to hear in every situation. He
ends up making a lot of conflicting promises, and then ending up being sort of stuck in the middle.
HUNT: Yes. Oh,
BEGALA: Yes. Nobody ever accused Kevin McCarthy being overly bright. I'm sorry. He's not overly honest.
HUNT: He is sharp in certain ways. I will say I will give --
BEGALA: He is personable, but he created his own downfall. This job is to kind of politicians Miss Ann Taylor told me my social studies teacher in
Sugar Land, Texas, and I've always remembered this, those who want to be somebody in those want to do something, except for sometimes keeping the
lights on he did nothing.
He just wanted to be somebody it was ambition, as Doug says, and he's foisted on his own petard Democrats, I think many of them healing needed
five or six would have come to his rescue if they believed for a minute that he would keep his word. But he doesn't keep his word in and on the
Hill in politics in life if you don't keep, he's a man of his most recent word.
I guess it's the thing he'll give you his word. And then he'll give you his word, and it'll be completely conflicting. So I mean, I shed no tears for
Kevin McCarthy, I do for my country. But he brought this upon himself.
HEYE: One thing we used to say, when Kevin was whip is that he's a great vote counter, not necessarily a great vote getter. He obviously got to the
majority in the Speaker's vote, but it took him 15 basically whip operations and then lost this one to keep this conference together. So we
sort of undone by, himself again.
HUNT: Well, I mean, Paul, I was also as I was listening to you. And actually I'll put this question to you Doug.
But something Paul said, it kind of made me think of it which is that and Molly as well said well maybe Kevin McCarthy doesn't really believe
anything I will say I may be felt that most acutely yesterday when all of a sudden he wanted Democrats to help him. And they were like they thought
this was like a very plausible thing.
And that was kind of the man scramble appeal behind the scenes when, I mean, he's done nothing for Democrats lately at all. And it also kind of
showed just how quickly he was willing to vacillate from the very far right of his conference, or at least, even if they're not far right. The most,
you know, vocal, anti-governing crowd to try to make an institutional argument. I mean, it was like he turned on a dime.
HEYE: Well, we usually say the job is like herding cats. The reality is, it's like spinning plates, because you've got this plate spinning here and
this plate spinning here, and you got to go get that plate all the way over there. That's where Kevin McCarthy was yesterday. And that's what we saw
him trying to do. That was the definition of a last ditch effort.
HUNT: Yes, Paul?
BEGALA: Yes, the job requires strength. And to take the job, he gave away his strength. It's a little wonky. But this motion to vacate --
HUNT: I don't think it's great with that -- yes.
BEGALA: -- a motion to vacate to remove the Speaker until Kevin McCarthy required a majority of one of the two parties, which today would be 106
members, just even get it on the floor 106. McCarthy reduce that to one.
And so he disempowered himself, Nancy Pelosi had the same narrow margin five, six seats. And she passed the CHIPS Act, the bipartisan
infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, the Burn Pit Act to help veterans on and on and on.
HUNT: And by the way, often pass things with Republican votes.
HEYE: And if we challenge him -- .
HUNT: Not that she necessarily needed them when they were there.
BEGALA: She would always say I was been close to her all her career, she would always say in private to the members. Our diversity is our strength
because she had from AOC to Conor Lamb, right. She had some, she said, but our superpower is our unity.
HUNT: Unity, yes -- .
BEGALA: Now you were not allowed to convert -- , right? That you could never stab her, in the back or she kill you. -- Kevin he never bred that
sort of unity or discipline. And then he gave it away in the rules.
HUNT: Yes. Well, Molly Ball literally wrote the book on Nancy Pelosi. And she had zero respect, really, for Kevin McCarthy, know?
BALL: I think she really had contempt for him because she felt that she couldn't trust him. And look, Nancy Pelosi is not someone who ever had
strong relationships across the aisle. And in a lot of ways you could say that she pioneered a more partisan model of the Speakership group starting
with her first Speakership back in 2007.
Her strength was always her ability to keep her caucus together, keep that caucus, which was ideologically and geographically and demographically
diverse, and to have the Democrats be able to act as a unit. That was her leverage against the Republicans. So when she needed Republican votes, and
she could always count exactly how many votes she needed.
She knew where to go and get them. But McCarthy on the other hand did not have the unity of his conference behind him. But he seemed to be sort of
happy go lucky, sort of skipping through the Speakership to see what happened and try a vote, see if it fails, see if it succeeds, Nancy Pelosi
always knew what was going to happen before she put anything -- .
HUNT: Yes -- she did it. And I actually learned how to cover the House under Nancy Pelosi's for Speakership and it made me think that covering the
House wasn't all that interesting, because you always knew what was going to happen in advance. And then I of course, learned that was actually a
feature of Pelosi in particular.
All right, we've got a lot more coming, up here ahead on "State of the Race". Republican Congressman Armstrong, McCarthy ally Kelly Armstrong is
going to join me live here in studio. We're going to ask him who is he wants to support as the next Speaker.
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race". I'm Kasie Hunt.
We're live in Washington where the race to succeed Kevin McCarthy is on after the now former House Speaker was ousted in that history making vote
Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota is one of the House Republicans who voted to keep McCarthy in his job. And he is here with me now. Congressman, thank
you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): Thanks for having me.
HUNT: It obviously was a very long day yesterday; Kevin McCarthy said he's not going to run for speaker. So of course, that means you are one who has
to choose who your next leader is going to be. We just learned this morning that Jim Jordan says he's going to run for speaker. Would you support Jim
Jordan for speaker?
ARMSTRONG: So the three people have announced I'm really good friends with all of them. I served with Jim on Judiciary. I serve with him now on
oversight. I consider him one of my closest friends in Congress. And I'm glad he's thrown his hat in the ring. But I think fundamentally, we have to
figure out what this looks like going forward.
The price of my vote right now I used -- last panel was talking about motion to vacate, I think the history is a little different. It had been
one vote forever until Speaker Pelosi took over and then got away. But I'm not interested in letting one person in our conference or to be quite
frank, one member of Congress being able to sabotage the entire floor ever again. So the price of my vote is going to be what are you going to do to
make sure what happened yesterday never happens again.
HUNT: Very interesting. So basically, basically, you're going to say to these guys, if you are willing to change, say you're going to change the
rules on the motion to vacate, then I would be willing to vote for you.
ARMSTRONG: I want to know what they're going to do to make sure it never happens again because otherwise, I said this earlier, and I hate repeating
it. But it really is otherwise you have the same clown car with a different driver. And we cannot let that happen. I mean, Kevin McCarthy got thrown
out for being responsible for making sure the government didn't shut down.
I was part of those negotiations, I negotiated the most conservative CR that we've ever seen, 10 percent spending cuts all of HR 2 that didn't fail
because Democrats voted against it. Democrats were never going to vote for it. It failed because 21 Republicans voted against it.
And so the most conservative CR, we could get off the floor and make sure the government didn't shut down require Democratic votes. And that's
something we have to address in our conference. And if we don't address it, it doesn't really matter who the next speaker is.
HUNT: Let's talk about Steve Scalise for a second, what do you think he would bring to the job that perhaps Jim Jordan doesn't have?
ARMSTRONG: A ton of experience. I mean, he's been our leader. He's great. He has broad swaths of support amongst everybody. But I'm getting a little
concerned. And I just don't mean that we're acting like this as a normal leadership election. We're going to just move everybody up the wrong and
say the whole that, that just makes it look like the problem was Kevin McCarthy.
Well, Kevin McCarthy wasn't the problem, either with speaker necessarily the Speaker Ryan or Speaker Boehner. I mean, if we're getting this is not a
normal leadership election, we have to determine what we're going to do and how we're going to accomplish these things. And we're not doing this after
we won the majority back, which by the way, Kevin McCarthy has more than has more to do with the seats.
We've increased in the last five years in Congress than the next 50 members combined. So we'd better start talking about this and we should treat, we
shouldn't act like this is normal. This is not normal.
HUNT: This is not normal. I mean, look, I don't you're not going to find disagreement. I mean, I covered all those men. You mentioned the day
Boehner walked out, you know, Speaker Paul Ryan dropping the mic deciding, hey, I'm going to retire.
I guess my question to you is do you think it actually can change? Isn't the Republican Party that you're a part of becoming more the party of Matt
Gaetz than it is the party of Kevin McCarthy?
ARMSTRONG: And that's what I disagree with that and wholeheartedly, I mean, with 222 vote majority, we had all but eight people strongly in support of
Kevin McCarthy. All the day, we had eight people that sided with the Democrats in -- motion to vacate the speaker. Pointed out in my speech, I
think it's worth pointing out again, it's interesting where they were standing while they were making the argument and who was surrounding them.
HUNT: But those people do have more power than they ever have before they were able to take down a speaker.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, I mean, we have a math problem. We have a four vote majority. If eight people decide, if eight people decide to do anything, we
don't have a majority, and they have use tactics that have never been used. They take that I mean, this is wonky, but you know, you used to cover, take
down a rule.
HUNT: I'm right there with you.
ARMSTRONG: I just don't understand how you can argue for regular order, and then also argue for guaranteed results. Those two things are completely
inconsistent with each other. I heard a bunch yesterday on the floor 33 trillion in debt.
Well, you know when we didn't go 33 trillion in debt in the last eight months. That's how long Kevin McCarthy has had that job. I hear about not
getting term limits to the floor. Well, term limits couldn't get out of the Judiciary Committee.
HUNT: Which you --
ARMSTRONG: Yes, if you want regular order, you get regular order. I think my friend Thomas Massie gave the best speech on the floor. And I don't,
this is what concerns me for 30 years. And I heard the last panel, but one of the reasons Speaker Pelosi maintains complete control is nobody had
access to the floor.
Nobody had access to amendments; nobody had access to bring up an issue that was important to their constituency, and have an open rule where you
can offer an amendment on an appropriations bill. We have that now. And for somebody who represents an at large district and is just a member of
Congress who tries to do my best job and tries to help, that's really important.
And I don't want to go back. And I'm concerned that after watching this happens, and what happened yesterday, why would any other speaker want to
go back to the rules where the member from North Dakota gets to offer an amendment? Why wouldn't they want to control the outcome? Because then you
can do all of those different things.
HUNT: Yes. So can I ask you, you mentioned the four seat majority and the math problem that you have?
HUNT: It's -- it's the reality, right? So the challenge for Republicans if they want, if you want more stability is to gain more seats in Congress.
Jim Jordan, who has announced this, is leading the inquiry into Hunter Biden, that impeachment inquiry that Kevin McCarthy green lit arguably
because he was under pressure from hardline members in the conference.
Do you think the fact that Jim Jordan was he to ascend to the speakership? Would it be harder for you to win a bigger majority in next fall?
ARMSTRONG: I don't know. I don't know that, I think it's going to be harder for us to win a majority if we don't come together as a conference and work
hard to get to move things towards everything. I mean, we're going to have a race, we're going to have a candidate form on Tuesday, hopefully, we'll
have a vote on Wednesday, whether anybody has the votes to get to 218 votes.
But the bottom line is, we still got to go out raise money, we got to help support candidates, and nobody has done a better job. And by the way, I
don't think whoever replaces Kevin McCarthy can do the job that he has done. He's gone 300 out of 365 days a year on the road. He helped --
HUNT: But he does work hard at that.
ARMSTRONG: He helped people get elected who voted against him yesterday, and without his help, they would not be in Congress. So I think there's a
little irony in that as well.
HUNT: He mentioned that in his farewell press conference last night as well. Let me ask you about one issue in particular that has become central
to the fight within the Republican Party, and that is continued funding for the war in Ukraine. Are you confident that there will be additional funding
I mean, they are spending, you know, several billion dollars per month on bullets on ammunition. And according to CNN's reporting, they're set to
potentially run out of money as soon as December if you don't do something, are they going to have that money?
ARMSTRONG: So I think one of the problems with Ukraine monies we keep trying to do what we did, what the senate tried to do is, you put it on
must pass bills, you send it through there, nobody stands up and makes the case what this money is going for, how it's being audited, how we have any
HUNT: But it would have to be allowed to the floor in that way. And I think the votes would be there. If somebody if the Republican Speaker put it on
the on the floor. So is that going to happen?
ARMSTRONG: But nobody's made the case. What's changed my mind a lot is when we have millet, we have a lot of people in our conference who have served
and they are making the same case. They're like; we have to know this can't just be an endless monies picket. This can't be no accountability, no
The answer that this is President Zelenskyy's war to fight and we're going to be there as long as it takes is not right is not resonating with my
constituents or the American people. But also 35 percent of the world's exportable wheat comes from the Ukraine 35 percent. If we think it's cost
us $100 billion to be engaged in the Ukrainian conflict, what does it cost us if there's food riots in Northern Africa. We watch what happened when
ARMSTRONG: Russia controls the national gas supply to Europe. But we have to make that case. And you know who should make that case? And you should
have done it a long time ago, Joe Biden.
HUNT: All right, Congressman, Kelly Armstrong, thank you very much for being here today. I really appreciate your time, sir.
All right, the House of course, without a speaker and it could stay there for a while with sounds like at least through next week. We're going to
talk it over with former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. That's next from the "State of the Race".
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race" where still for the first time in history, there is no speaker of the house after eight Republican hardliners
through Kevin McCarthy out of his job. McCarthy says he will not run again. There is at this hour, no obvious candidate to take his place.
Adam Kinzinger is a former Republican Congressman from Illinois and he joins us now. Congressman, it is great to see you again. We are now
colleagues of course after; you know we spent much time talking in the hallways of Congress. Kevin McCarthy is a man that you know very well.
You also know Steve Scalise, you also know Jim Jordan. Let's, I do actually kind of want to start on what you think happened yesterday with McCarthy.
Were you surprised he's not putting his hat back in the ring for speaker? And why do you think he ended up in this position?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was look, I was slightly surprised he didn't put his hat back in the ring because I kind of
saw that maybe he just like stick this out because this is going to be a mess. At the same time I look -- like he was toast. He was toast from the
very beginning, when he created this idea that you could have one person to a motion to vacate the chair.
And Matt Gaetz made it clear that unless you went through this like incredibly insane, you know, blueprint that he put up for the speaker, he
would eventually do it. I mean, ultimately, we have entered very unprecedented territory when basically eight people made a decision to get
rid of the Speaker of the House. We have to have unprecedented answers to this, which I can talk about obviously, if you're interested.
KINZINGER: But I think yesterday was just the culmination of what happens when you put crazy in charge and that's what they did.
HUNT: Well, what you tweeted yesterday, just to continue on this thread for a second, you tweeted this photo which you know, is honestly one I keep
looking at again and again and we talked about it earlier in the show.
It's the photo of McCarthy and Trump. That was taken a couple of weeks after January 6. And this is what you wrote, "This picture led to today.
McCarthy made a deal with the devil and the devil will get his do".
KINZINGER: Yes, it's 100 percent true. So I can remember, I was sitting in the GOP conference meetings and you are getting Intel from those meetings,
you know, right after January 6, until that picture was taken. And the Conference of the GOP members of the House, were very quiet. We didn't know
where it was going to go.
Is Donald Trump over as he go into, you know, I don't think anybody ever expected he'd come back into politics again. And then we all woke up one
day, and Kevin McCarthy took that picture with Donald Trump. And I will tell you, because I was in those meetings, I was around everybody.
Basically, they all drop their head and realized that Trump was here to stay. And you could see day by day, more and more people got back on the
Trump bandwagon. Kevin McCarthy resurrected Donald Trump politically; I think nobody needs to forget that. And by empowering Donald Trump and Matt
Gaetz, he ultimately led to his own demise and speaker.
HUNT: Why do you think he did what he did with Trump?
KINZINGER: Because I think he looked at Donald Trump and said, if I take him on, trust me, as a guy that's done it taking on your party is not easy
to do. It sounds much more heroic than when you actually have to make that decision, and you start to count the costs. I think Kevin McCarthy realized
he could and by the way, Mike Pence as well could have, but Kevin could have led this party away from Donald Trump.
But the cost to Kevin probably would have been that he wouldn't become speaker ever. Because yes, you can defeat the trumping of the party if
people are united behind someone like Kevin McCarthy, but there was going to be a cost to do it. And it was a cost he was unwilling to pay.
So I think he took that and said I could either possibly lead the GOP to salvation, or I can guarantee I'll be speaker by just bowing to Donald
Trump. And he picked that and guesses what; he became speaker for eight months.
HUNT: Yes, for eight months. So let's talk a little bit about the race that's unfolding here at right now with Steve Scalise is calling around to
you know gauge support for what everyone expects to be his bid. Jim Jordan has officially thrown his hat in the ring this morning to run against him.
What do you make, in particular of Jordan's bid and that brewing showdown between the two of them?
KINZINGER: Well, I think Jim Jordan would be frankly the worst pick for Speaker of the House GOP. I mean, he's, he's kind of done a good job of
trying to reform his image. But let's think about who he is. This is a guy that has basically made it very clear that his whole goal isn't to govern,
it's not to legislate, it's to destroy the Democrats.
And I think what this country need, what the house needs, is a speaker of the house that isn't going to just be out to destroy the other party. So
many of your viewers may not know, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is the speaker of the whole house.
Now while he or she is of the party that's in charge, technically, and theoretically, the position is not just to be a party leader, is to take
care of the whole house. And I think that's where there needs to be a change. We're in unprecedented territory. I think, look, Steve Scalise,
he's not very tough. Like he's a nice guy, people like him. He's not very tough.
I'm not sure if he can pull this speaker race off. And ultimately, it comes down to who can get 218 votes out of a pretty disparate group of people. I
don't know who can do that, honestly and particularly if the issue of Ukraine is on the forefront.
HUNT: Yes, I mean, let's talk about Ukraine. I mean, it's clearly you heard Kelly Armstrong was talking about it. It was kind of interesting to listen
to him. He's a staunch McCarthy ally. But he's essentially saying that his constituents are saying they don't want to do it anymore.
That seems to be a theme that is gaining steam among the Republican Party and not just the Maga wing. I mean, how much does that concern you? What's
going on there?
KINZINGER: Well, it's really concerning, and I think Kelly is completely wrong. So there's two things here, number one, if you're watching Twitter,
yes. Then the majority of Twitter people that are tweeting, yes, but I don't think that's the majority of people in his district, especially where
he's from, trust me, those people understand the role that America plays a role.
Secondly, I heard Kelly say, he said, you asked him about bringing standalone, bringing standalone funding for Ukraine to the floor. And he
said, well, we should bring that to the floor, instead of putting it on a must pass bill. And you said, well, OK, why don't you bring to the floor?
He's like, because nobody's made the case.
Well, somebody can make the case when it comes to the floor. This is the circular reasoning that's happening. So here's what needs to happen Kasie.
You have to get five or 10 members of the House GOP to refuse to vote for anybody who will not bring Ukraine funding at least up for an up or down
If you can get five or 10 people to stick to that, you will I mean, it'll be an interesting race. But that's how you actually ensure that Ukraine is
HUNT: Yes, no, it's a really good point. So look, Congressman, since you're no longer a sitting congressman, I can sort of spend some time with you
talking about the things that really interest me in terms of the people and the players here. And Kevin McCarthy obviously was involuntarily removed
from the speakership.
But his two predecessors, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, both got so fed up with all these dynamics that we are talking about that they voluntarily
decided. I don't want to, this power is not worth it, I don't want to deal with it anymore. I just want to remind everyone and show them what we heard
from those two men before we found ourselves here today, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): I leave with no regrets, no burdens. If anything, I leave the way I started. I'm just a regular guy humbled by the
chance to do a big job.
FORMER REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): Have a vision, get everybody to get the team to agree to the vision, hold people accountable to it, set a timeline and
execute. It's what we did it worked for us. I will keep working there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: There's a lot going on underneath the surface and those two things. I mean, Boehner, of course says, I'm humbled by the job. He was also humbled
by those people in his conference. I mean, there's a scene in a book where, you know, Mark Meadows is trying to, you know, bring a threat of a motion
to vacate and he gets ends up getting so upset.
He's kneeling in tears in front of John Boehner. I mean, what we saw yesterday is honestly; the House GOP has been the leading indicator of what
got us to Donald Trump not the trailing indicator.
KINZINGER: Yes, it's actually a really good point. And I'll tell you know, I lived obviously the Boehner and Ryan speakership, and you lived it from
the other side on the media side, I actually, when I listen to them, I kind of am wistful for those days. But what you see is, look, I mean, politics
isn't beanbag. It's not an easy sport.
So I'm not trying to pretend that it is. But they were two honorable men who got run out of town, basically, almost every speaker that Republicans
have put up has been run out of town now to include Kevin McCarthy. And the problem is, is you know, when you have people that are dishonest, that
basically demand things of you, you can't deliver and, and also tell you different things.
So, you know, Mark Meadows you had mentioned, basically was crying, literally crying and John Boehner's office asking for forgiveness because
he was about to depose him. Meanwhile, he would try again to depose him later. I mean, it is a tough business.
And, you know, I don't I don't, I don't envy anybody who wants to be speaker, because you're ultimately going to end up probably leaving in a
shameful position. But we need good people to do it. And the problem is Kasie; good people aren't running for politics right now. Because frankly,
why would you?
HUNT: It's actually probably the most important point. We do need good people. We need good public servants here and fewer and fewer of them are
willing to do what it takes to exist in this town. Adam Kinzinger, thank you very much for being with me today. I really appreciate it.
KINZINGER: You bet.
HUNT: Coming up, my panel rejoins me with one more thing. Stay with us.
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race". My panel rejoins me now. And before we go, we want to ask for one more thing on the campaign trail or in
Washington that everyone is watching for in the coming days. 30 seconds. Doug Heye.
HEYE: We haven't talked about congressional earmarks in a while. And there's --
HUNT: No, we haven't.
HEYE: There's a $50 million earmark request for a helicopter landing facility by a certain member of Congress from Florida named Matt Gaetz. Let
me tell you $50 million that will not be spent. Wow.
BEGALA: Actually, my story is in New York where a judge presiding over the Trump civil fraud trial has issued a -- . This is very fraud. The former
president issued a social media post smearing one of the judge's clerks and potentially endangering her safety. So the judge reacted and said you can't
do that sort of thing.
There are going to be trials in New York, in Florida, in DC, in Georgia, those judges are watching this. And I have to say that be very, very
careful about restricting the First Amendment freedom of speech of a presidential candidate or any other citizen. I'm not a Donald Trump fan, he
needs to have a perfect right to criticize the judge and criticize the prosecutors because if we still have a free country.
HUNT: Yes, Molly.
BALL: Well, this is a little bit off topic. But John Grisham has a new book coming out this month as he does every year. And you might say well,
there's a name I haven't thought about since the firm. But this is the first time he has written a sequel to the firm. I spent some time hanging
out with him interviewing him for an article in Time magazine.
I think rather delightful profile of John Grisham, who may be in for a little bit of a renaissance I think part of the sort of wave of 90s
nostalgia, we've been experiencing that -- like me love --
HUNT: -- I know. I'm watching Kevin McCarthy actually this week to see if he puts his finger on the scale in the Speaker's race to replace him. Thank
you all very much for being here. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the "State of the Race" for today, Wednesday, October 4. You can always follow me on
Instagram and the platform formerly known as X, I'm sorry, formerly known as Twitter. "One World" is up next.