McCarthy attempts damage control after questioning Trump’s strength as a candidate

News Room

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has scrambled to contain the fallout after he questioned whether former President Donald Trump is the strongest candidate in the 2024 presidential race – comments that outraged Trump allies.

McCarthy called Trump Tuesday morning to apologize, two sources familiar told CNN. The call came after McCarthy said during a CNBC interview that he thinks Trump can win in 2024, but does not know if he is the “strongest” candidate.

McCarthy explained to Trump that he misspoke on CNBC, and also claimed that some reporters took some of his comments out of context, the sources said.

Allies were pleased with McCarthy’s apology, though several Trump advisers told CNN they were still wary of the speaker.

The New York Times was first to report on the call.

The damage control didn’t end there.

Not long after the call, McCarthy also walked back his remarks in an exclusive interview with the right-wing publication Breitbart.

A Trump campaign adviser told CNN, “I don’t think anyone can read his interview yesterday and not believe that he fully supports (Trump).”

McCarthy’s campaign also blasted out a fundraising email calling Trump the “strongest” opponent to beat President Joe Biden.

McCarthy’s scramble to stay in Trump’s good graces shows how much he is still beholden to the former president, despite refusing to endorse in the primary so far.

But the speaker is likely to come under increasing pressure to get off the sidelines as the race heats up, even as some senior Republicans have advised McCarthy to stay neutral.

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