U.S House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) listens as Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (R) speaks to member of the media after a House Republican Conference meeting September 29, 2015 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
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U.S House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) listens as Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (R) speaks to member of the media after a House Republican Conference meeting September 29, 2015 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
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Story highlights

McCarthy laid out his vision for the speakership Tuesday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper for "The Lead"

McCarthy will only say that he's in good shape, declining to talk about how many votes he's secured

Washington CNN —  

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pitching himself for the role of the next speaker of the House and says he’s the leader who will know how to pick his battles – and bring everyone to the table.

McCarthy laid out his vision for the speakership Tuesday in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead,” saying he wouldn’t shy away from a fight, but he wouldn’t enter one that was futile.

“I’m willing to fight but I want to fight to win,” McCarthy said when asked about the call by some Republicans to force a government shutdown fight in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

McCarthy said he supports a “bottom-up” approach to leading, where Republicans first put forward their policies and plans, use committees to do the groundwork, and then let that effort result in winning a vote on a policy.

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He pointed to the controversy over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office – which has at times overshadowed her presidential campaign – as an example of how the process can work.

“When you look at the poll numbers of Hilary Clinton – they’ve dropped. Unfavorable is pretty high because people say they don’t trust her,” McCarthy said. “They don’t trust her because what they found out about the server and everything else. Would you ever have found that out had you not gathered the information from Benghazi Select Committee? So if we really want to be able to show what this Planned Parenthood has done … have the select committee get all the information, all the hearings. Win the argument to win the vote.”

The California Republican, who is currently John Boehner’s No. 2, has a large base of support in his effort to win the speakership and is the clear front-runner for the position.

But McCarthy will only say that he’s in good shape, declining to talk about how many votes he’s secured.

“I feel very good about where I’m at. I never talk about the vote count,” McCarthy said.

He has been conducting a disciplined outreach effort to recruit support for his run, and he’s positioning himself as an inclusive leader.

He even had kind words to say for Democrats and Texas firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been one of the leading voices trying to galvanize House conservatives behind a shut down strategy.

“I believe in Reagan’s 11th commandment: I won’t speak ill of anybody,” McCarthy said. “Ted Cruz is a friend of mine; he’s a senator. Ted Cruz is healthy for this party, just as every other Republican is healthy for this party. And I want more people to be part of the Republican party.”

He continued to say that the “culture” he’d set as speaker is that “everybody gets a voice” – even the opposing side.

“(Democrats are) elected to Congress, you’re not going to shut their voice out,” McCarthy said. “I may philosophically disagree with them sometimes. (But) we have the majority here. I’m sure our philosophy could win because that’s what America voted for.”