After 15 tries, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy finally became House Speaker, overcoming the opposition from his far-right co-workers. Following the voting, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele suggested that McCarthy may not serve his full term as Speaker, citing Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) as the reason.
Late Friday night, Gaetz stunned his fellow House Republicans when he voted “present” on the 14th vote, thus denying McCarthy the victory he thought he had wrapped up. That led to a 15th round where McCarthy finally prevailed.
Steele told MSNBC host Alio Velshi that the controversial Gaetz “punked” the system —— and his own party.
Discussing the House Republican turmoil, Steele began, “I likened it, as you may recall, to the Game of Thrones actualized, where it was for the seat. Who sits in the seat? It wasn’t about — you didn’t hear, people got up and started talking about all this stuff they wanted to do, but that’s not going to happen. There is no policy will for a lot of the things they want to get done.”
“The moderates, such as they exist in the House, are marginalized,” he continued. “The Marjorie Taylor Greene’s, the Lauren Boebert’s, the Matt Gaetz — and Matt Gaetz? I don’t care what you think about Matt Gaetz, but he punked the hell out of this system this week. And not just McCarthy, but 200 other Republicans who supported McCarthy.”
“For 14, 15 ballots, 14 and a half ballots, they were weak and weakened, but for, in that final moment, Matt Gaetz saying ‘yeah, okay, I’ll vote present,’ this thing probably would still be metastasizing, if you will,” he added.
“So, you see this push for power for the sake of power, and now the question becomes, how do you wield that power?” he told the MSNBC host. “Who gets to really wield that power? And given how they have stripped bare the speakership, I don’t think Kevin is going to be that powerful. I don’t know how he can be, because all it takes is one disgruntled member to say, ‘you know what? I want him out of the chair.'”
Take a look at his remarks below: