Gaetz says McCarthy would be ‘terrific’ RNC chair after ousting him as Speaker: ‘Matt sure knows how to troll’


Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. – in a twist some colleagues wondered was a joke – said Wednesday that he endorses former Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as Republican National Committee Chair. 

Gaetz, who spearheaded McCarthy’s ouster from the House Speaker position last October, backed McCarthy as a potential replacement for RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel amid reports she will step down. 

“I fully endorse Kevin McCarthy for RNC Chair. Kevin is well organized and a very high-revenue fundraiser. He will also be well-liked by the RNC Committee. The RNC Chair doesn’t make any policy decisions, set any agenda, or negotiate against Democrats, ever. Kevin would be terrific,” Gaetz wrote on Tuesday. 

He replied to The Calvin Coolidge Project, which cited sources in claiming McCarthy was being considered as a “dark horse candidate” to replace McDaniel due to his fundraising abilities.

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McCarthy and Gaetz split image

Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., right. (Win McNamee/Getty Images | Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Asked by Politico about the post, Gaetz repeatedly told the outlet on Wednesday, “The tweet speaks for itself.” 

Earlier this week, former President Trump met with McDaniel at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. After the meeting, Trump posted on his Truth Social that McDaniel was a “friend” but that he would be urging changes at the RNC after the South Carolina GOP presidential primary. 

“My initial thought was Matt sure knows how to troll,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., told Politico regarding Gaetz’ endorsement of McCarthy. “I thought it was tongue in cheek.”

“I noted a twinge of sarcasm in that comment,” Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., also remarked. 

Regardless of Gaetz’ intentions, other House Republicans from Florida agreed McCarthy’s record on fundraising would make him a great RNC Chair.

“That’s a tip of the hat to Gaetz to get somebody with new energy, new perspective and a proven track record of being just a massive fundraiser,” Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., told Politico, acknowledging McCarthy’s fundraising support helped get him elected. “If you’re looking for somebody to build a majority, I think Kevin McCarthy would be the guy.”

The RNC's January fundraising was its best monthly haul so far in the 2024 cycle

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel is interviewed by Fox News Digital at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, on Jan. 22, 2024 in Manchester, N.H. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

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Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said McCarthy “did a heck of a job as Speaker.” 

“That’s fascinating,” Diaz-Balart added of Gaetz’ endorsement of McCarthy. “That is fascinating.”

If McDaniel does resign, her replacement would need approval from the 168 RNC committee members.

Two sources, though, told Fox News Digital that no decisions will formally be made at the RNC until after the Feb. 24 South Carolina primary. But those sources said McDaniel is also focused on ensuring the upcoming merger between the RNC and the campaign operation of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee goes smoothly.

Matt Gaetz, Kevin McCarthy

Gaetz led the effort to remove Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker in October.  (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP, Al Drago/Bloomberg)

McCarthy, who represented the same California district from 2007 until his resignation in 2023, was the first House speaker to be voted out of the position in U.S. history. He left Congress in late December, just two months after being booted from his House speakership position after Gaetz orchestrated the rare vote on the obscure “motion to vacate.” 

Though McCarthy maintained support from most Republicans in the House, eight GOP detractors ultimately ushered in his ouster in October, mainly taking issue with McCarthy for choosing to work with Democrats to temporarily delay a federal government shutdown. 

At the start of last year, Republicans held only a fragile margin in the chamber after a predicted “red wave” failed to materialize in the 2022 elections. 

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McCarthy endured a days-long floor fight in January 2023 that eventually resulted in his ascension to the House’s top job at a time when deep divisions within the GOP raised serious questions about the party’s ability to govern following Trump leaving office. 

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.



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