Neil W. McCabe Weighs In on U.S. House Speaker Race and Possible Candidates

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed One America News National Political Correspondent Neil W. McCabe to the newsmaker line to weigh in on the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker of the House on-going battle, Kevin McCarthy, and the emergence of other candidates.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, our very good friend, top gov tracker with One America News Network reporting on everything Ron DeSantis, our former lead political reporter at The Star News Network, and my good friend who made my Christmas really wonderful, Mr. Neil McCabe. Good morning, Neil.

McCabe: It arrived, Michael?

Leahy: Yes. So let me tell the story. I don’t want to go into all the details of how Southwest Airlines made my Christmas so miserable. (McCabe laughs) But suffice to say, after about three or four canceled flights, a trip to Phoenix, and a total of 1,700 hundred miles of unplanned driving by yours truly, I arrived back to the Leahy mance in Thompsons Station, Tennessee, which you know well.

I was very tired when I arrived. And I go to the front porch and here’s this beautiful box from my good friend Neil W. McCabe and his beautiful wife. And it’s a bunch of cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes. And they, my friend, were delicious. Thank you for making my Christmas even more special.

McCabe: Merry Christmas to you, Mike. Obviously, you and I both know how good you’ve been to me and my family. And it’s an absolute treat that our friendship and our professional relationship continues after low these many years.

Leahy: Low these many years. Now, speaking of treats, (McCabe scoffs) there is trick or treat, I suppose, with a different holiday. What on earth is going on in the speaker’s race? Kevin McCarthy, short of the goal line. 20 votes short after three ballots yesterday. What’s your take on this whole misadventure?

McCabe: It’s interesting because let’s just say that the worst WHIP in the history of the entire House Republican Conference, going back to, I don’t know when the first Republican arrived in the House, and let me maybe like 1856, 1858, the worst Whip was Kevin McCarthy. Absolutely the worst. Had no idea how to count votes.

It’s interesting to me that the clown who is running the NRCC, Tom Emmer, becomes the new WHIP, and he may actually be a worse WHIP than McCarthy when it comes to counting votes. How do you walk into the building yesterday morning not knowing that you were down 20 votes?

It’s insane to me. McCarthy would have been speaker if he had a red wave, but because for two years, he could have ended Pelosi at any time, right? He could have flipped. There were seven House Democrats who would have flipped. He would have become speaker, and he could have stopped all of the Pelosi madness, right?

But he didn’t want to do anything. He didn’t want to seize responsibility two years ago or a year and a half ago because he didn’t want to jeopardize his red wave. He was in the prevent defense for four quarters, and that red wave turned out to be no wave.

And so here he is, I think also in the lame duck. He threatened the Senate Republicans. He said if you guys give the Democrats the 10 or 12 votes they need to pass this $1.7 trillion bill, that basically takes the ball out of the hands of the House Republicans coming in in January, and if you screw us, I will never forgive you and I will block any legislation that comes from you in the Senate.

Not only did 10 or 12 House Republicans, something like 20 House Republicans, that’s how pathetic McCarthy’s threat was. And so because there’s nothing to do until the end of the fiscal year and because McCarthy played along with the Washington establishment, there’s no crisis. So they can drag this thing up.

The debt ceiling crisis comes in like April, May. Basically, the rebels are saying, all right, well, we got four months, let’s see what happens. And I guess the last thing is that he should have never called the recess yesterday because, after that third round when Donald’s vote became 20 against him, he had to keep people in that room.

Because as soon as those guys left the capitol and they went to dinner, maybe had an adult beverage, they’re getting phone calls. They’re getting text messages saying, you guys are heroes. What a great thing you did.

These 20 guys are amazed that they got out of that building alive because of the institutional pressure, the constitutional pressure, the donor pressure, and all of the pressure from their colleagues for them to cave. Not only did they not cave, but they also got out of the Capitol alive last night to fight another day and come back stronger than ever this morning.

Leahy: Where does this all end up, in your view?

McCabe: I think what they’re going to do is they’re going to keep Jim Jordan as their sort of placeholder. But Jordan can’t be speaker. Everyone knows that.

Leahy: Let me just stop for a moment, because I agree with that. But I’d like to know your reasons why Jordan can’t be speaker.

McCabe: The same reason Jordan had to be removed as the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus is that he caves. And nobody knows if this is like a spinal problem. (Leahy chuckles) Nobody knows if they’ve got something on him. No one knows if it’s just his personality to go along, to get along.

But routinely when he was head of the Freedom Caucus, Paul Ryan would send over Trey Gowdy, and Trey Gowdy would say, come on, Jim. Come on Jim. Be a good guy, Jim. And then Jim would cave.

And so that’s why Meadows had to come in and take over the Freedom Caucus at Judiciary, maybe he’ll get something done. I doubt it, but his job at Judiciary is to pretend to investigate the FBI, and people are content to let him do that. But he can’t be Speaker.

Leahy: So that begs the question, who can be speaker?

McCabe: Now we have to have people emerge.

Leahy: And who would be better than McCarthy?

McCabe: There are like 200 people that would be better than McCarthy. (Leahy laughs) Jim Banks can’t run for Speaker because he’s running for Senate in Indiana, and he’s the guy who forced out Mike Braun rather. So that was a possible candidate. Scalise has always just sort of sat there.

In 2018, when Paul Ryan was basically turning the ship into an iceberg, Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy just stood there and went, okay, Paul, okay, Paul. In 2018, they blamed Trump for losing the House. They left 40. 4-0. There were 40 House Democrats unchallenged in that 2018 race because Ryan took a dive, because he wanted to torpedo Trump with an impeachment.

And McCarthy and Scalise, each one was afraid that they didn’t have the votes, so they just went along. People would go along with Scalise, but there’s something where he just doesn’t want it.

And maybe it was his brush with death that he has a personal reason, and maybe he promised his wife, I’m not going to take a higher profile. And so I don’t know who’s going to emerge, but believe me, there are donors and there are people who are saying to other chairmen, hey, this could be your time.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.















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