Congressman Jason Chaffetz is Running for Speaker of the House

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, one of the most important committees on Capitol Hill, but he’s looking for a promotion. Just a few days after saying that he would support Kevin McCarthy (R-CA_ as the next Speaker of the House, Chaffetz made a surprising announcement while speaking with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Today, here, I am announcing my intention to run for speaker of the House of Representatives. We were entrusted by the American people with the largest majority the Republicans have ever had since Babe Ruth was swinging the baseball bat.

But they didn’t send us here to perpetuate the status quo. They want us to tackle the tough issues. They don’t want us to fight. They want us — they want us to fight — they want us to take that fight to the Senate. They want us to take that fight to the president, and they want us to take that fight to the American people. 

Chris Wallace: Just five days ago, you said you supported Kevin McCarthy for speaker, and it was widely assumed that as majority leader, the number two position in the GOP caucus, that he would move up when John Boehner moved out. Why are you even considering the idea of running against McCarthy? 

Jason Chaffetz: Kevin McCarthy is a good man. He’s a big reason why we have such a solid majority. 

But things have changed and there’s really a math problem. You need 218 votes on the floor of the House. There’s 246 Republicans that will vote, but there are nearly 50 people and a growing number that will not and cannot vote for Kevin McCarthy as the speaker on the floor. He’s going to fall short of the 218 votes on the floor of House.

Chris Wallace: So, what are you going to do? Are you going to put your name forward when the House caucus votes on Thursday?

Jason Chaffetz: Today, here, I am announcing my intention to run for speaker of the House of Representatives. We were entrusted by the American people with the largest majority the Republicans have ever had since Babe Ruth was swinging the baseball bat.

But they didn’t send us here to perpetuate the status quo. They want us to tackle the tough issues. They don’t want us to fight. They want us — they want us to fight — they want us to take that fight to the Senate. They want us to take that fight to the president, and they want us to take that fight to the American people.

Chris Wallace: So, before we get into some of the substance, I want to ask about the procedural issue, because it is complicated. First, there’s a vote in the House GOP Caucus on Thursday. Then, there’s going to be the full vote at the end of the month.

Do you pledge to support whoever wins the vote in the House Caucus on Thursday, or even if you lose, will you take your candidacy to the full floor at the end of the month?

Jason Chaffetz: Again, I think Mr. McCarthy has the majority of the conference, and we’re going to have that vote on Thursday. But in many ways it doesn’t matter because the real vote is when you call that name out in front of everybody on the floor of the House. So, the vote on Thursday is closed door, secret ballot, I will support the nominee.

Jason Chaffetz and Kevin McCarthyBut I just don’t believe that the nominee, if it’s Kevin McCarthy can actually get to 218. That’s why I’ve offer myself as a candidate to try to bridge that divide. I think those 50-plus people find I’m a fair, even-balanced person, that I can bridge that divide between — there are more centrist members and some of the more far right-wing members. That’s why I’ve entered this race.

Chris Wallace: So, basically, you’re saying you will continue your candidacy until the full vote of the House at the end of the month.

Jason Chaffetz: What I’m saying is, if we walk out of there, and I want to win, I hope I win, but there’s no doubt that Kevin McCarthy have the majority of the people in our conference that do support him. They like him. They…

I will walk out of the there and support the nominee. I hope it’s me. I’m trying to fight for that. But if it’s Kevin McCarthy, I will support him, but he still has a math problem. It still can’t get to 218.

And I hope we can avoid those problems, bridge the gap, turn the fight — instead of internally — turn that fight to the Democrats and fight for the things that we all came to Congress for.

Chris Wallace: Why do you think 50-plus and whatever and the more hard-line conservatives won’t vote for McCarthy but would vote for you?

Jason Chaffetz: I think the American public wants to see a change. They want a fresh start.

There’s a reason why we see this phenomenon across the country, and you don’t just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team. That doesn’t signal change. I think they want a fresh face and fresh new person who is actually there at the leadership table in the speaker’s role.

You’ve got to speak, you’ve got to be able to articulate the Republican message to the American people and take that fight to the president, but you also have to bridge internally. And that’s where we’ve got some conflict going on right now.

 

See the full transcript at Real Clear Politics…