tv Profile of Rep. Kevin Mc Carthy CSPAN February 23, 2019 11:23pm-12:39am EST
monday night on the communicators, christopher shelton, president of the communications workers of america talks about their opposition to the proposed t-mobile sprint merger. he is joined by the executive editor at communications daily. >> we think it is a bad idea. we think it will destroy 30,000 jobs in the united states for a german government owned company and a japanese billionaire company. we don't see why the german government or japanese billionaire's should seek to make money off of american jobs. that is what the merger will do. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. >> as ronald reagan advised us, america is too great for small dreams. when we work together, we succeed together as one nation.
we are entering a time of divided government. but that is no excuse for gridlock or inaction. we are at our best when we focus not on retribution, but on building a more perfect union. [applause] but while we seek cooperation, there is one core principle upon which we will not compromise. republicans will always choose personal freedom over government control. [applause] >> that's representative kevin mccarthy of california, in the speaker's chair on the opening day of the 216th congress, setting the stage for the republicans in the house of being in a minority position with him as their leader.
we are going to learn more about kevin mccarthy and his approach to leadership by dipping into the c-span archives. as those of you who watch us know, we have an ongoing video record of members of congress throughout their legislative history and we thought it would be interesting to assemble that for a look back at what brought kevin mccarthy to this position of power and what we might expect from him in the next couple of years. let me introduce the reporters who are going to help us do this. scott long is returning, a senior staff writer for the hill, welcome back. and evan is a staff writer for the lunch angela's times. times.los angeles i'm going to ask both of you how you would explain how you have been covering him and for how long. >> at the time the state was in a major budget crisis. it continued for some time.
he sort of led the minority republicans in resisting any tax increases and then he went on to go to congress, later, and i started working in washington and i have been covering him since i have been in washington. host: scott, how about you? >> since i joined the hill newspaper, started covering house republicans, then the speaker of the house was john boehner, but we have had some turnover over the years and mccarthy has been a consistent force throughout the time. so, now after four years in the majority i'm covering him in the minority. host: a consistent force coupled with a pretty quick rise both in the california assembly and house of representatives. for both of you, what is the secret to his success? why has he advance so quickly in the state assembly and the congress?
guest: he was very good at seeing what people want, what they need, doing things for them politically and helping them raise money. he is somewhat chameleonlike ideologically. he sees a sort of where the party is going and he is very good at helping people elevate their political careers. people get indebted to him. he's not a firm ideologue. he's more of a centrist from california who has hitched his wagon more to trump lately in the tea party when he helped them take over congress in 2010. he's just very shrewd at looking at the electoral map, seeing who needs what, the donors are comfortable with him in ways that they may not be comfortable with more activist elements of the party. he's a liaison for the tea party to the big-money faction.
a lot of people are comfortable with him. he's a very good tactician and he is obviously a survivor and that is why he has continued to excel, even as some of the people and the policies promoted have not done so well. as we know, california lost half of its republican delegation in the last election. down from 14 members to seven in a large california delegation. yet kevin mccarthy is still in leadership. host: what can you add to that? >> he has relationships on capitol hill and he works hard on developing. he finds out what they need, he is a tactician. he studies congressional maps, reads political almanacs, not for fun, but to help him advance his career. he learns what the needs of members are. he travels the country like no one else on capital hill, attending fundraisers, stumping for his colleagues, currying
favor for his colleagues for the moments and he needs their support to run for leadership. >> if those are his strengths, what are his skills that might look to others because he is not confident in those areas? >> during house of cards, he would talk to kevin spacey about it. how do you run this office, with an iron fist? and when it started, that was kevin spacey's role in congress. he doesn't have the tools of a tom delay. he can't rule with a hammer. the earmarks, they don't exist anymore. the leadership used to be able to use those to lord over their members and keep them in line. he doesn't have that iron fist and it's the way that he runs
things. that makes it harder to keep everyone in line. boehner and paul ryan have the boehner had the same problem and paul ryan of course had the same problem. these guys are not newt gingrich, they're not tom delay. it's made it harder to herd all the cats. >> and reich those two leaders before him he'll still have that really quided conference in the house of representatives, the hard corps conservative tea party and the moderates, people more willing to compromise. so what tools does he have available to him? >> what he does seem to have available are the tools we were talking about in term os he believe he is should let the party go in the direction it wants to go. it's not his job to have one solid vision and push everyone along.
that, you know, it may be messy, we may fall short on some votes like when they did -- they needed votes to pass a farm bill which was wild because we haven't heen -- farm bill is something everybody can get behind and pass. when he was whip at the time they fell short. it was like counting voting he argued in the end because we couldn't pads that and couldn't pass other measures, it let us negotiate for more. we got more for republicans. the process was messy, maybe didn't look good for him but republicans got more out of it, got where they were tiing to go in the end anyway. he'll argue that for the gheefed caucus, they are making progress even if it doesn't look as neat and tidy and he doesn't look like as effective a leader as some of the previous republican leaders. >> we're going to see a lot of him out on sunday talk shows as the face of the republican party? >> he's not a great orator. he's had problems in the past, actually a major problem when he talked about the benghazi committee when he was running for speak for the 2015, got into trouble when he suggested on fox news that the benghazi committee was mainly there for political purposes to take downhillry clinton. and he got into a lot of trouble for that. it contributed to his failing to
generate enough support to be speaker. he has had problems in the past. but he does do quite a bit of cable tv. i think specifically on fox news, on fox business, on cnbc. i think we'll probably see him out front especially on a lot of more conservative business-oriented networks. >> i'm going to turn to you and have you give our viewers his biographical background. >> bakersfield native, been there forever. his story was when he was 19, he bought a lottery ticket. he won, i think it was $5,000, it was like his first time playing the lottery. he used that money to open a deli and it was called kevin's, his big thing was baking his own bread. he said he was very successful at this that business. he also would buy cars, i think at auction, and sell them. but even with this background and with his father, who was the firefighter, being a bakersfield native, there's also very sort of decidedly political background that he had. he saw bill thomas as his mentor, started working for him in his office at he same time he was opening the deli. he got involved in politics pretty early, he was 19 at the
time. eventually became his chief of staff. followed a very traditional route into politics. thomas was a great mentor for him. connected him with all kinds of donors, he was a natural. at building those relationships. then he made it to the california assembly, he was in his 30's at the time. and he became the assembly leader. it was a time sort of like his times in congress where you had this rebelgoing on within the party. that sort of establishment centrists who had been running it were getting grief from the -- it wasn't the tea party at the time but the anti-tax faction driven by talk radio, do not bend on taxes, do not agree to raising a dime of taxes, even though mccarthy was not from that part of the republican party he knew how to work with
these people, how to give them what they wanted. and they ousted the establishment guy who i think was in his 60's or 70's at the time, dave cox, then mccarthy, who was just sort of this likable guy, known in california for, you know, he had a house they all rented, a bunch of republicans who lived there when they were in sacramento. they would watch tapes of themselves talking in the legislature and grade each other on how they were doing. and just because people liked him he got that position. >> this is in 2000 at the g.o.p. convention, let's watch kevin mccarthy in his earlier incarnation. >> kevin. kevin as the honor, kevin has the honor of leading the largest political youth organization in america. thank you. ladies and gentlemen i have an important announcement.
al gore did not invent the internet. [applause] but the young republicans and yrock.com revolutionized it. today is the begin og they have republican generation. and today is the launch of the young republicans' online community ned network, yroc.com. we are this swer net generation. we are creative, we are innovative, we are the future. we are not your grandfather's republican party. we don't overlook our ancestors. abraham lincoln taught us to value unity. we are the new young republicans.
so get ready. because yrock.com will rock your world. we don't just talk about the future. we make it happen. thank you very much. [applause] >> that's kevin mccarthy before he went to the house of representatives as the head of they have young republicans. talking about technology. is the recasting of the republican party as appealing to young people and using technology something that's been career in his and washington? >> technology has played a big part in his career.
in congress specifically he was one of the sort of early advocates for silicon valley. he would be making three to four pilgrimages to silicon valley every year in his early years in congress, talking to silicon valley c.e.o.'s, executives, sheryl stanberg, elon musk, not only fundraising, silicon valley is good for fund raidsing, but developing the relationships, talking about how technology could advance the republican party and the country as a whole. and what is interesting is with the arrival of donald trump in 2016 and 2017, kevin mccarthy changes gears and almost does a complete 180 in silicon valley because conservatives are talking about how social media platforms like twitter and facebook are biased against conservatives, that they are silencing their voices. people like mark meadows and other freedom caucus leaders. so kevin mccarthy is picking up
on these cues from donald trump and other conservatives and starts to become one of the loudest critics of silicon valley and those social media platforms and it's quite a transformation. >> our next piece of video is from 2005 when kevin mccarthy was the assembly leader in california and he was participating in a program we've done over the years called students and leaders where we bring political leaders in to high school students and have them ask questions. let's listen to what kevin mccarthy had to say to young people back in 2005. >> what got me involved in politics, the california lottery. the most money you could win was $5,000. i scratch off three of them, all three said $5,000. i go back up to the checker i say, did i win? i was one of the first winners
in california. so i took this money, this $5,000 and invested it into the stock market. not because i was a wizard but i made some money because in the 1980's the mark was going up. i decided if i'm a true believe for the what i i believe as an individual, i believe i'm an entrepreneur, i would start my own business. i'm 19 years old. if i fail i'm no worse off. i take a year out of school, go out into the big world, create a business. what business was i going to create? i did a little research. i took my money out of the market, refinanced the car i had and opened probably the biggest business you ever heard of, kevin o.'s deli. i open this, it teaches me about business, teaches me about creating something, keeps -- teaches me a lot about regulations and what the city looks at. i had four or five employees so it taught me who this fica was and why i was paying on people. taught -- taught me every time i hire somebody it costs me money. i did pretty well. >> we're going to hear this narrative come back throughout
his career about his small business years and the lesson he is took that helped frame his political point of view. every politician you cover has a narrative. kevin mccarthy's is tied to this time running this small business. when you look at his biography, it was a brief tenure. why do you think that had such an impact on him? well, whether it had the impact he says it does, i don't know. i think it's a great narrative, like you say, this is a politician who has run on an anti-tax platform his entire career. starting back in california he would say the legislators in the democratic party, they've never run a business like i have, every time you raise taxes even the smallest amount what it does to a business. it's a great piece of his narrative, fits into his politics perfectly. works for him.
and you're right, he does talk about it over and over again. it's a crowd pleaser. >> and he told this story hundred os times in his life, especially during his political career. and there are slight variations every time he tells it. "the washington post" fact checker did an analysis of this story, of kevin o.'s deli and found some inconsistencies, nothing egregious but for example, he says that he won the lottery and then opened his dele when he was 19 years old. the california lottery didn't start until kevin mccarthy was 21 years old. there are some inconsistencies. but to evan's point, it helps him tell the story of why he is a republican. taxes, regulations, managing employees, things like that. and so it fits perfectly for his political goals. >> let's remember he's also been under siege since he joined leadership when he didn't become speaker last time they were talking about, this guy from the establishment, he's an establishment person, we need a fresh face.
this gives him some street cred that he's not just a politician who has been a politicians his whole life. >> you talked about bill thomas as his mentor. we covered bill thomas for a lot of years. personality wise they couldn't be more different. can you talk about that relationship? >> it's interesting. mccarthy is not known as a crazy, mean bosses, he's a very sort of, can get along with anyone. thomas was a different personality. but i think that that speaks to just why mccarthy is as good as he is, how he's been able to rise. he doesn't -- he just can get along with anyone. people don't like him, you know, "los angeles times" we were constantly writing tough stories about him. >> about bill thomas? >> about mccarthy also.
come into the room, look at devin nunes, he doesn't talk to the press anymore. he's so angry about it. and also some other republicans in california feel, you know, aggrieved. mccarthy, he doesn't have that kind of personality. it's served him well, the fact that he cab get along with bill thomas, get along with john boehner, get along with paul ryan, all these different people, they all feel he's intensely loyal to him. >> our first voof him on the house floor occurred in january of 2007, right after he came in as a freshman congressman. let's watch. >> the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. >> i thank the gentleman from california for yielding. mr. speaker, i believe congress is a marketplace of ideas. and at the end of the kay, the best ideas should win. unfortunately, the process today, that will not happen. allowing a vote on an
alternative minimum wage approach is in america's best interest. republicans offer a balanced approach to increase the minimum wage and provide offset tax relief for small businesses to take on the increased labor cost for minimum wage hike. the unbalanced approach of the democrat bill, h.r. 2, to solely increase the minimum wage is irresponsible. never mind that the basic economic state of setting an artificial price floor could raise unemployment. federal reserve study stateses if h.r. 2 is enacted, a million restaurant workers would lose their job. i can tell you as a former small business owner personally, this is a tough decision. i came to congress to work to increase opportunity for all americans. not to harm workers and small businesses. i listen to the debate today and listen to the other side as a freshman. if you look at the republican bill, it is a compromise. it is a common solution. the minimum wage will be increased but what else will happen? there'll be greater health care for the workers. there'll be tax relief where you can expense off when you're
buying business equipment. what happens? the workers of america are more competitive in the global economy for the 21st century. i ask my colleagues on the other side, last week, on this floor, i listened closely to what our speaker said. speaker pelosi said, let's work in a spirit of partnership, not partisanship. i will tell you the republican bill is just that. it is a partnership that lets the pow ore they have idea win at the end of the day. i thank you for the time. >> scott wong, so we're entering the era of flipping back and forth from party control. everyone talks about bipartisanship but what's the reality of the congress kevin mccarthy came into in 2007 and what it's been like since? >> well, those are the nancy pelosi years when he arrived,
then it became the boehner years. you know, they haven't been terribly bipartisan. i mean that's a reality. it looks like even in the trump era especially, as we're in a government shutdown, out of a government shutdown, and back in it, things haven't changed that much. he entered into a congress that was very partisan and not getting a whole lot done. obviously when obama won election, that was the arrival of obamacare, democrats were able to push that through. during the kevin mccarthy era. and obviously that became a big punching bag and a big target for republicans helping to propel them back into power in 2010 obviously with the young guns program that kevin mccarthy was an integral part of. >> can you talk about the young guns program, who were they, what were they trying to do? >> sure, it was kevin mccarthy and paul ryan and eric cantor of course.
their whole plan was to retake congress for the republicans. so at the time, the tea party was coming of age, obamacare had just passed. and what they -- they credit this program, it was interesting, it was three establishment guys who were going to recruit all of these, in a lot of cases, tea party candidates. they traveled -- mccarthy just travels all over the place. and sort of works tirelessly. they came up with this program where you'd have to go through certain levels of commitment and show you've achieved certain things, you've gotten a certain base, you bring in this much money, you set up this kind of organization. as you reached each level you would get more money from the young guns p.a.c. this was a good example as i mentioned before of how mccarthy was good at building bridges between, in this case you had
the big donor money which was not going to look at some of the candidates who were sort of, in some cases they may have seen them as tea party yahoos in parts of the country they had never even gone. to mccarthy could explain look, these are ethe people, this is why these candidates will win the races and republicans with ill take back the majority of the house. and some of them just seemed like, you know, long shot candidates. you know. especially from the establishment point of view. and they wound up winning all these races, winning the house, whether the program was as instrumental in making that all happen as mccarthy and ryan and cantor says it was, it was a matter of debate. this was a moment, it was a political moment, you had he tea party thing happening. certainly mccarthy did not start the tea party, was not even really a member of the tea party but he did know how to leverage it as much as he could.
>> we have just a little bit of video of the young guns, video they produced to introduce themselves to the republican themselves to the republican voters. let's watch. [video clip] >> there's a better way and a new team is ready to bring america back. eric cantor. kevin mccarthy. paul ryan. joined by commonsense conservative candidates from across the country. together, they are ready to make history. together, they are the young guns. innovative, energetic, forging new solutions. one to outline a vision to restore america's prosperity. young guns, a new generation of conservative leaders. >> so, scott wong, the irony of the situation is their success also brought really very activist members of the house in which then began to give challenges to the republican leadership. >> right, when you think about
it, the young gun the tea party movement, the tea party wave of the 2010 election that swept john boehner and eric cantor an kevin mccarthy into power eventually led to the creation of the freedom caucus, many years later in 2015. and it was that freedom caucus led by jim jordan and mark meadows and others, the ultra conservative faction of the republican conference, that forced speaker boehner out of power. we had another tea party challenger in dave brat who then forced out eric cantor in a g.o.p. primary in 2014. so it led to a lot of chaos and a lot of, you know, political infighting within the republican conference, you know, after the arrival of these tea party citizen lawmakers. >> in 2010, republicans were
still not in control but mccarthy was beginning his rise in leadership. our next clip is when he was chosen as one of the leaders to give one of the weekly radio addresses. we'll listen. >> it's time for the american people to have a role in driving america's agenda, that's why we launched america speaking out, to engage the american people and seek out their ideas for solving our nation's challenges. we recognize that americans don't want an agenda imposed on them from washington. they want to help set the agenda. instead of debates behind closed doors which has happened far too often in the last 18 months, we're throwing open the doors and letting a little sunshine in. americans speaking out will give americans back a voice in
washington and house republicans are ready to listen. the initial phase of the engagement we launched this week is about soliciting ideas. it will take place through the web, mobile apps, facebook and social media. as well as traditional town hall meetings across the nation over the coming weeks. central to america speaking out is an innovative new web form, america speak -- americaspeakingout.com. where all americans can submit ideas for a new agenda, ideas for a new agenda, regardless of party affiliation and whether we agree with them or not. here, all people can share their priorities from every corner of america and engage in a civil debate about our nation's challenges. for too long, americans have felt their voice doesn't mat for the washington. that's about to change. we're ready to listen and start a real dialogue of ideas. so log on to americaspeakingout.com, join the discussion, and make your voice heard. thank you. >> the position that he holds at that point is chief deputy minority whip.
so translate that for folks around the country who are not privy to how congress works. >> it was one of his first positions in leadership, leadership can be big. as we know. and he quickly moved from there to become the whip and then the republicans would take over congress and he used his position in leadership, you know, to become a prolific fundraiser which he was from the day he came to congress. even when he won his election when he was a freshman and this was unheard of, he was giving money to other candidates who were also running the same year he was. you know. so that sort of made it possible for him to get into leadership, once he was in leadership, he built on his network and for him, i do feel like it was less about the positions he held in the building than what he was
doing outside the building. and just building the fundraising network, making donors comfortable. and you know, as we saw in this video, he was a very good marketer he came in with plans. the plan often went nowhere but they looked at them. americaspeakingout.com is now an online poker site. that's how effective the civil debate he is said would foster -- didn't really do anything but worked as a good marketing tool. he always came prepared to a race whether it was inside the building or putting up talking points, understanding politics, what is going to motivate poem to support him. >> you talked about how the passage of the affordable care act energized the republican base. we also should talk about the financial crisis. and the impact that that had on congressional politics. >> yeah. i'm trying to think back -- 2008, yeah. before i arrived in washington. right in the midst of the
presidential election. >> the bailout the troubled asset relief program. that's another contributor to that's another contributor to the tea party. there were some very concerned about -- >> and those were some of the major pegs of the young guns plat form which was fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, obviously after the passage of obamacare, repealing and replacing obamacare. and trying to stop the obama agenda at any cost. the irony of course is that here 10 years later, after the financial crisis and almost 10 years later after young guns, with republicans in power over the last couple of years, we saw the debt go up, we saw obamacare not get repealed and replaced. so a lot of those promises they made in 2010 with -- not really fulfilled and you know, i think that's why we've seen just this turnover in leadership in recent years. >> this cemented their strategy, in that period right after obama was elected, there was an infamous kind of dinner party,
mccarthy was there, i can't remember, boehner was there, frank lutz and they all talked about, that they would resist everything that obama proposed. they knew republicans were in the wilderness at the time. the country needed to emerge out of the financial crisis. it started with how obama would proceed with bailout and into obamacare obviously. they made the decision at that point that they were going to fight everything, you know, everything the democrats proposed. this was not going to be about the sort of building a bipartisan path through this recovery, whether it was solyndra, the solar plant in california that got bailout money that went sideways or obamacare. they cemented that strategy around, they realized, you know,
that financial crisis was a big problem and how are republicans going to get out of it? the plan to get out of it, which mccarthy was part of, was from day one, fight everything that obama wanted to do. >> what's interesting about mccarthy, as i was watching that clip from his very early years, how cheerful he is. he has a cheerful, happy warrior type of politician. that is conducive to his current role as minority leader. you don't have control of the house floor. you have not a whole lot of power when it comes to the overall house of representatives. republicans are looking for that kind of lap dog role, somebody to -- that attack dog role, but certainly he has a number of attack dogs, jim jordan, liz chaney, the new conference
chairwoman who is certainly a very good messenger and very aggressive and of course steve scalise, his top deputy as the minority whip. >> as we progress we'll get to a little bit more discussion about that. when the republicans regained control of the house, kevin mccarthy increased his leadership, so this is from 2010, incoming majority whip, john bayner is the speaker. let's listen to his message. [video clip] >> the voters laid out a concise mess abbling, they want to see change in washington. nobody sitting up here believes
republicans won a majority. only in america are you given a second chance, we know we have to earn it. you'll find our whole focus will be on job creation, reducing and more importantly changing congress itself. so we understand that the power is with the people. put it on loan every two years and they'll watch us closely. that's why we see a lot of new
faces. this is more a national message than ever before. we heard them, putting the team together to make sure we can carry out what they told us. host: and what did republicans in the house do with their new majority? >> they immediately went after obamacare. repealing obamacare became the mantra for republicans. and it was a successful political strategy for the short term, at least. as we discussed over time it became less successful but -- at this point now it's become a albatross for them. in those years, their aggressive attack on obamacare and also the president's climate change policy, anything the administration was doing, they became, it was effective talking points. they were able to galvanize the tea party and the activist base and i think ultimately what that helped produce was donald trump. host: so still a democrat in the white house, harry reid in the senate, what were they able to do? >> in a lot of way it mirrors what we're seeing today in washington, a divided government.
democrats have taken back control of the house, launching a number of investigation into president trump and the administration. in the same way we saw a lot of investigations being launched, daryl issa, the oversight committee chairman from california, obviously a fellow californian, to kevin mccarthy. launching probes into all sorts of things. fast and furious. and you know, the house republicans created a special committee to investigate the death and handling of the benghazi attack. and so just a number of investigations attacking president obama and his administration from all different angles, very much like we're seeing today in washington. host: we're going to fast forward a few years to his next rise in power, when he becomes the republican, the majority leader. this clip is from june of 2014 and the house g.o.p. election
results. as incoming majority leader he talks about his rise in politics. >> there's probably a lot of grass roots republicans who voted for dave brat over eric cantor who are saying, we wanted a more conservative leadership, and we elected a guy from one of the bluest states in the union. mr. mccarthy: they elected a guy who is the grandson of a cattle rancher, a son of a firefighter, a guy who has grown up through the grass root they elected a guy who spent his time going around recruit manage of these individuals to get the majority. i've always had to struggle for whatever we wanted to overcome.
i think that's the greatest part about america. they always give you the privilege and the opportunity. that's what this party brings as well. i think you get an opportunity, people will be very impressed about what we're going to do and where we're going to go. host: boehner there as well. the eric cantor defeat did what to the republican conference in the house? >> i think that question foreshadowed a lot of the problems that mccarthy would have going forward in that there was always a concern among the grassroots and activists in the party that he was just this establishment figure, that he wasn't really one of them. he wasn't able too prove himself to the freedom caucus that he was really in alliance with them as much as he wanted to project. so it's a constant struggle for him. it's a constant balancing act. it was interesting at that
moment he was being asked about being from california. this is something that, it's kind of interesting, he's been able to excel in republican leadership here in washington where republicans are so wary of the state and just have this feeling, you know, the state is in open rebellion. at that time they were seen as obama's biggest ally. it's a reminder that the state is a big place. there's big pockets of deep red in california. and some of those places like where mccarthy is from, bakersfield, are as conservative as any place in the country. host: we see steve scalise behind him, still part of the leadership team, and john boehner behind him, boehner's problems continued, set the stage for us for the next part of the story. >> 2015, around the time of the republican retreat, i think it's hershey, pennsylvania, a group decided to form the freedom caws caucus. they decide the republican study committee, the group in the house republican conference that
is really the conservative group has grown too big. they want something a little more narrowly focused about 30 members form this new caucus within the republican conference. these are the far right members this emost conservative and by later that year, mark meadows launches a coup against speaker boehner and basically forces him out of office, they pressure him to leave office. and he is gone, the day after the pope came to the capitol he resigns as speaker. forcing everyone to turn their eyes to kevin mccarthy who is next in line to become speaker of the house. host: i'm going to jump to what happened, there was a meeting where they were going to make the decision about who was going to be the next speaker of the house, this is october 8, 2015. and there is a press conference to explain what happened behind closed doors. >> got shots of you, huh?
we've been going through this campaign talking to a lot of members. one thing i've always said, we're servants, we should put this conference first. i think there's something to be said for us to unite, we probably need a fresh face. i'll stay on as majority leader but the one thing i found in talking to everybody, if we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that. so nothing more than that, i feel good about the decision. i feel great to have my family here. my colleagues. i think we're only going to be stronger. we fought hard to win this majority and turn this country around.
party right now is to have 247 votes on the floor. if we are going to be strong, we got to be 100% united. i think, you know what? let's put the conference first. so that's what we're going to do. host: scott, you were in that crowd of journalists asking questions. what happened in the four hours between the morning meeting when he was candidate and that decision to withdraw? >> a closed door election, reporters probably dozens of reporters standing outside the room, in the longworth building. kevin mccarthy as lawmakers would later tell us stood up in the room, everyone is prepared to vote for him for speaker of the house. and he said the timing is not right. i'm not the right guy who can unify this conference at this moment and he drops out of the race. i remember it very well because ryan costello of pennsylvania walked out of the room to dozens of waiting reporters and he said, ashen-faced, mccarthy just
dropped out of the speaker's race and reporters were just going absolutely crazy at that point. very chaotic day. and essentially what happened was mccarthy couldn't get the support of the freedom caucus. the same group of people that basically forced boehner, pressured boehner out of office. they could not -- he could not get the support of conservatives. realized, he believes he could have gotten about 220 votes on the house floor. that's two more than would have been necessary. but he believes that he would have been severely weakened. he believed that he needed to put up a big number in order to unify the conference and that he would not have had a big number. host: this is a guy who has had nothing but success his entire political career. what must that decision have been like for him? >> it had to have been agonizing. but it also seems like it was tactical. like everything else.
he's looking at this, how is he going to hold the caucus together. this will be a mess. this could wind up ending his career on a sour note. there was other dirtier stuff going on where another member was -- put out a letter suggesting there was personal stuff they were going to bring out and run kind of like a campaign, you know, even raising questions about his personal life. i think he's looking at that and thinking, what is this going to be like? what kind of speakership am i going to have? and to his credit, if we look where he is now, he is the leader of the republican party in the minority, granted, but usually when you go through something like that and when you are about to become speaker and suddenly your elevation stops and the caucus doesn't want you or you decide the caucus doesn't want you, you retire, that's it. the fact that he stayed on, is leading the party now, is somewhat interesting and it's an important chapter in that. host: at the same time, you referenced earlier the fox news
appearance where he talked about the benghazi committee. that happened at the same time. we have a clip of that and talking -- with him explaining his, what he was trying to say when he went on the air to talk about the role of the benghazi committee and how the republicans were positioning that investigation. >> your comments about benghazi last week -- mr. mccarthy: that wasn't helpful. i could have said it much better. but this benghazi committee was only created for one purpose. to find the truth on behalf of the families for the four dead americans. i should not be a distraction from that. and that is part of the decision as well. >> thank you very much, guys. host: that was the same press conference but it clearly -- the benghazi conversation had been in the headlines for days after
he said it. what was the ill port of that? why was it such a topic of conversation? >> it was a disaster for him. the benghazi investigation is going on, everybody knows, this is politically motivated, that this benghazi investigation could damage hillary clinton. they'd had six or seven investigations by then and they were still doing this one. it was like, you know, it was not an opportunity for republicans while they controlled the majority in the house to really dig in to and weaken the likely presidential nominee for the democrats. what happened is, mccarthy does this interview on fox news, getting pushback from the interviewer, are you getting anything done? nothing is happening in the house? he says what the last thing he should be saying, look what he did with the benghazi committee, look how much we weakened hillary clinton. then it makes the whole thing, you know, you have the republican leader admitting that the whole thing is a political charade or at least partly a
political charade and that undermined the investigation, trey gowdy, the chair of the committee, was upset. the republicans were saying he shouldn't have said this. jason chaffetz who at the time was running the oversight committee also suggested maybe he would be running for speaker he said look, part of this job, a big part of this job, is to be a communicator. we have someone who can communicate and will damage mccarthy. host: as a side note, jason chaffetz left the house of representatives to become a permanent commentator on television. >> his famous line from that episode, we need a speaker who speaks. that resonated throughout the conference. it threw a spotlight on kevin mccarthy's weakness which is, as i mentioned before, sort of his oratory skills and in that clip earlier, you can see him also obviously a very stressful day for him but he was stumbling over his words, not able to get certain sentences out. and that sort of was reinforced in that speaker race by jason chaffetz.
host: paul ryan was recruited to take the speaker's gavel, something it seem head had to be talked into. he had been a longtime policy-oriented member of congress. what was the relationship between paul ryan as speaker and kevin mccarthy as leader? >> i think very good. these guys go back to their young gun days before the 2010 election. spent a lot of time with each other on the campaign trail. would go around the country on the stump together. fairly closely aligned, genial guys, get along guy, not bomb throwers by any means. i think they had a pretty good working relationship. when paul ryan decided to leave in 2018, early 2018, he quickly endorsed kevin mccarthy to succeed him as speaker of the house, obviously they would end up losing the majority so he
became minority leader. there had been some discussion of whether or not steve scalise, the number three leader, would make a move against mccarthy. there was sort of this shadow campaign going on. paul ryan stepped in and made it very clear he was endorsing kevin mccarthy to be next leader of the house republicans. host: 2016 election brings donald trump to office. republicans have the trifecta, the house, the senate, and the white house, and they've been reuling against the affordable care act -- roiling against the affordable care act since its passage. what did they do once they had the ducks lined up? >> they went after it and the house did repeal obamacare and several members of the house, i think mccarthy was one of them, wound up in the rose garden, they had a big ceremony, the
president was very excited. again, that was probably one of the bigger unforced errors mccarthy committed politically because that rose garden ceremony was used by every democrat running in the mid-terms as sort of a cudgel and became a big moment for democrats to galvanize around and ultimately win back the house. host: but they have a tough road to get to that white house ceremony. they had a really difficult moment on the house floor where they had to pull the bill. >> right. host: we've got a bit of video from that, march 24, 2017, minutes before the vote. they decide to pull that. let's watch. [video clip] >> i ask out unanimous consent to speak out of order to inquire of the schedule. i yield to my friend the majority leader mr. mccarthy. mr. mccarthy: i thank the gentleman for yielding. members are advised that votes are now expected in the house tomorrow, march 24, 2017. i know this is a change from our
previous announced schedule. members should be prepared for multiple vote series. the first of which will be as early as 10:00 a.m. it is our expectation the rules committee will meet tomorrow morning to report the rule providing for consideration of the rule h.r. 1628, the american health care act. upon adoption of that rule, the house will proceed with general debate on the measure and final passage. >> by working together we can create a plan that works for all americans. not just members of congress. vote no. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. pursuant to clause 1-c of rule 19, further consideration of h.r. 1628 is postponed. pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the chair declares the house in recess subject to the call of the chair.
>> you all have heard me say this before, moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains. we're foaling those growing pains today. we came really close today but came up short. i spoke to the president a little while ago and told him i think the best thing to do is to pull this bill and he agreed with that decision. this is a disappointing day for us. doing big things is hard. host: what happened to the g.o.p. leadership team? >> they didn't have the votes. it was an hour before the vote to repeal obamacare, something they voted dozens and dozens of times in recent years when they didn't have the white house. here was the moment of truth and they counted the votes, kevin mccarthy and paul ryan and steve
scalise and realized they didn't have it. paul ryan went actually physically went to the white house to inform the president that they were pulling the bill. and it was an embarrassing moment. it stalled progress and momentum for that obamacare repeal bill. but, as we now know, the house came back after some negotiations between the conservatives and moderates, they came to an agreement and narrowly were able to push it over the finish line on a second try. there was so much pressure on the g.o.p. leadership team including kevin mccarthy to get the job done. by president trump. because this was the first bill out of the gate of this new republican majority and they stumbled out of the gate so they were under enormous pressure to get a victory for president trump. that's why we saw the rose garden ceremony, a premature celebration, but house republicans cheering as if they'd won the super bowl when in fact the bill would fail in the united states senate. host: the comments that speaker
ryan made about moving to a governing party is hard, would you add your thoughts or observations about what he said? >> i don't think you need to be in this town to get what he's saying there. this is something that was easy for the republicans to rail on obamacare. you had people who were frustrated with some of the changes in the health care system, with the way everything changed and it's easy to make these promises that we cannot just repeal but also replace, we're going to get you better health care. it was always -- the message was about better health care they didn't have to deliver the better health care they just talked about how bad you have it with obamacare. but when it came time to repeal they did have to govern and you have all of these members who are realizing that this repeal could mean my constituents are going to have a much tougher time getting insurance. we're not really replacing it
with anything better, we have been promising them something better, so then they're faced with that reality, looking at having to get re-elected. they didn't know it was going to happen in the 218 mid-term we saw what happened. so you know, it doesn't take a political genius to look ahead at what is going to be the result of this, of making gd on this promise. and that's when you had all these members start to chafe. it became an embarrassing moment for leadership. host: paul ryan's relationship with president trump was up and down, i guess it's fair to say. i'd like to pause for a moment and have you talk about kevin mccarthy and his relationship with president trump. president trump calls him my kevin frequently. how did that work for the two of them that he became a real point person for the president on capitol hill? >> very early on, as we mentioned, kevin mccarthy is traveling the country, he's stumping in various districts, congressional districts, in all
sorts of different states. he's the type of guy that doesn't just look at and read polls he goes out and talk -- talks to people. whether he's at the hotel, in restaurants, he's gathering all these data points and he gets a sense that something is happening in the country. that white, blue collar workers are feeling disenfranchised, they're feeling that washington and the politicians in washington are not working on their behalf and not looking out for their interests. so he sees the donald trump popularity rising even before probably the rest of us in washington realize that he was on his way to the white house. very early on, he starts to develop a relationship with president trump, he signals support for him in the middle of the primaries around march, 2016. very early on, even as paul ryan is publicly feuding with donald trump. so that is politically risky to have your number two guy expressing support for trump.
basically, the story i heard is that mccarthy, as the majority leader controls what's happening on the floor each week. he's calling donald trump and giving him a briefing every week saying this is what the house republicans are going to be focused on. this is what we're putting on the floor this week, wanted to give you a heads up. they start to develop a trust with each other and kevin mccarthy obviously one of the best on capitol hill at numbering and developing relationships is able to develop this relationship with a future president. host: they delivered for the president, president trump's signature tax bill. >> he played a big role in delivering that tax bill which was a very tough thing politically to do because he had a lot of members who were in districts where those tax cuts were not tax cuts for their constituents including orange county, which was a republican stronghold in california for forever until this recent election. new jersey, areas where there were strong republican pockets
and because they were cutting the amount you could deduct from the state and local taxes and from your mortgage interest deduction, that meant that a lot of people who were living in those expensive suburbs that were republican enclaves were going to be paying more taxes as a result of this bill promoted as a tax cut. mccarthy didn't bristle at that. he wants to be a partner with donald trump. he said it will be good for republicans. he got all of these members including people from the assembly in california who rose with him to congress in what ultimately became walk the plank because a lot of them lost their seats. it did show his aptitude as a dealmaker and someone to bring people along to something they don't want to be brought along to. in this case it didn't turn out well for a lot of people but they needed a victory.
you were talking about how this town works. if they couldn't get that bill passed, it would have been seen as a major blow for republicans. they felt that they needed to get something on the scorecard. he persuaded a lot of his members to go along. >> throughout the fall, budget talks dominated this town. we were on a continuing resolution, deadlines after deadlines hit and missed. our next clip is after the election when we know the consequences, where you see the democrats return to control, this is the white house with president trump. want to show and talk about the relationship and also kevin mccarthy during the longest shutdown in our history. let's watch.
president trump: thank you very much. kevin. >> i came down for the second time this week based on the meeting we had earlier in the week, didn't expect it to last very long. it was two hours. it was more productive than we have had any other time. i think there is places we can find common ground. the president was strong what he needs to have happen here. we need border security. we want the government to open. i found in our discussion, sometimes it was tough, but there are areas we can find agreement on. that is when the president interjected that he thought what would be best, that he would designate three individuals with the vice president being the lead to work through the weekend, build on this progress and that each leader would also say -- the president was kind to the speaker and said you could bring twice as many if need be.
>> five times as many. >> mitch mcconnell is standing down, i am sending members down. the president said he will call us back next week and invite us back. we want to solve this problem. there is a great need to do it. we can get it done. it has to have the will. i see the will from this administration. i will work with anybody who wants to move america forward, secure our border and put this government back open. i am opening that pledge here and hope every other leader will make that as well. that means is staying in the room to get it done, then we will. there was progress today. i look forward to solving it. >> there we see the leaders of the white house on the shutdown. it continued for 21 more days. as we tape this, we are in the extension that came out of that. rather than talk about budget politics, talk about the role kevin mccarthy played in the shuttling back and forth between the white house and capitol hill to find a solution to this.
>> he is basically a loyal footsoldier for president trump. he is a loyal ally, so he is representing the president's interests in these meetings. what we don't know is what this relationship between kevin mccarthy and nancy pelosi is going to be like. they are both californians but from very different places. nancy pelosi, a san francisco liberal, kevin mccarthy, a conservative from bakersfield. it is very interesting to see how this relationship between pelosi and mccarthy will play out. so far it has been gridlock, and the two parties in their corners, not a lot of dealmaking. we will see if this emerging deal is something that can be sustained and supported and if both pelosi and mccarthy can
drive it through the house when you will have people in both corners left and right speaking out against it and opposing it. >> it is interesting the republicans chose kevin mccarthy to lead them after a loss of 40 seats in the house. it would be a time where people might look for a fresh face. how did they get him? >> they looked around the room at who is left and available, and it wasn't the time obviously -- the freedom caucus, their power seemed to have diminished in the midterm election. he is the consensus choice still. it is like he got the position by default. it is interesting that scott was talking about his relationship with nancy pelosi. it has been terrible. california has never had this much clout in congress, but it is not going to be very effective for the state in terms of delivering the goods because they don't talk to each other. when he almost became speaker, she couldn't think of a time when she was negotiating with him.
she was asked to describe what working with him was like and she had a blank look because she did so little work with him. he would mock her. he gave a talk to a large group where he was proud of when she would see him, she would say, hello, kevin, the way jerry seinfeld would say to his nemesis, the disdain with which she would greet him. this is how divided the state is. he represents the deep red, very conservative politics. she is san francisco. they have little in common. the delegation, it is a huge delegation that they don't even meet, collaborate, and it starts at the top. those two cannot get along.
the past is prologue, it will be hard for them to do anything together and work in a bipartisan way in the house. >> our final clip brings us almost to the present time. he faced an early test as minority leader when one of the long-time members, steve king, was criticized for what was described as racist comment. kevin mccarthy acted swiftly. tell us how he approached that. scott: kevin mccarthy basie -- basically called him into his office. steve king is known for making controversial and racist remarks, but nothing as egregious as saying he had basically said he didn't see a problem with white supremacy and didn't know why everyone was upset. that obviously was where kevin mccarthy drew the line as the new republican leader. he wanted to show he was in
charge, there was a zero tolerance approach to his governing, called steve king into his office and essentially removed him from the two committees steve king had been sitting on. that renders a lawmaker essentially ineffective because your committees are where you have the most power if you have are a rank and file member. you can introduce amendments, move the conversation legislatively. so steve king is sort of a man without a party now. it was a very different approach than paul ryan, kevin mccarthy's predecessor, who let things slide more -- kevin mccarthy is ruling with an iron fist and
saying he has zero tolerance for this type of behavior. evan: it was notable that happened after the midterms. mccarthy, they lost half of the republican seats in the house. a lot of the campaigns where they lost were built around hostile remarks the president, republicans have been targeting at minorities. there was backlash to that in california and other states. after this election, this moment happens and mccarthy, who looked the other way when trump made his comments and didn't call him out, steve king's comments were far worse. it was coming out and saying he didn't have a problem with white supremacy. it was interesting that was the moment suddenly he took a stand. >> here is that clip. >> given the recent comments on white supremacy, should he resign? rep. mccarthy: that is up to
steve king. the voters have elected him. the house republicans denotes -- denounce his language. we do not believe in his language. and we decided he will not serve on any committees. i leave that up to him to make the decision. >> leader mccarthy of the republican's swiftly responding to steve king. also nancy pelosi going through a similar situation with one of the members of the democratic conference who has been swiftly criticized for what is seen as anti-semitic comments. it will be interesting to contrast the leadership styles. in addition to legislative tactics that leader mccarthy might be looking at over the next two years, his goal is to regain majority for republicans to pursue policies. when you look around the team, they lost females. they only have 13 among the house republicans.
90% white men. kevin mccarthy talks about needing to add to the diversity of the party. can you talk about the politics of that in the republican party? scott: it is a real challenge. trump is not about that. he talks about political correctness and makes remarks about minorities. at the same time you are hitching your wagon to trump trying to expand diversity of the republican party. after their last defeat in the presidential election, their autopsy was about how this party is speaking to white people and we need to diversify. we need to get to women and minorities. mccarthy talks the talk but at the same time, if he is going to be trump's lieutenant, that is not a way to diversify the
party. that is the challenge he has to navigate. >> he is 54 years old and has had a career in both the california assembly and the house of representatives. he has the task to lead a republican conference that is divided, angry about its loss in the elections and wants to go forward to the 2020 campaign. what would you be looking for in his leadership style? scott: where does kevin mccarthy go from here? he aspires to become speaker of the house if republicans are able to be successful in the 2020 election and democrats have a disastrous year. kevin mccarthy is expected to run for speaker of the house but
the question is whether conservatives will allow him to ascend to that role. there is a question hanging over his head. can he seal the deal and secure those 218 votes. people think this is as high as he will rise, then he could be passing the baton to somebody else. that is something i will be looking at. >> so much of this is behind closed doors. what will you be watching for? evan: we have seen so much of his career has been guided by where the republican party is going. he tries to get himself there. in this moment, for him to excel, he will need to lead the party to a place and figure out and redefine what the party is so it can become ascendant again. whether he is up to the task is what we are watching for. >> thank you so much for helping us understand someone you have been covering for a number of
years and adding more context to what we see on the television camera in the house of representatives and we appreciate it. evan: thank you. scott: thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> the house and senate return for legislative work on monday. the house will take up a joint revolution -- resolution to take up the president's emergency declaration that allows him to build a southern border wall. also, measures requiring universal background checks for gun buyers and closing certain loopholes. in the senate, the annual reading of george washington's farewell address. they will continue to work on an abortion bill. later in the week, the nomination of andrew wheeler to head the epa. the house is live on c-span in