"They're giving me a lot of credit for that because I said you really need someone very, very, tough and very smart," Trump said
Trump last week cast doubt on McCarthy's qualifications
Donald Trump suggested Thursday that he was partly responsible for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to drop his bid to become speaker.
“They’re giving me a lot of credit for that because I said you really need someone very, very, tough and very smart,” Trump said at a campaign event in Las Vegas. “You know, smart goes with tough. I know tough people that aren’t smart. That’s the worst. We need smart, we need tough, we need the whole package.”
Trump last week cast doubt on McCarthy’s qualifications after the No. 2 House Republican slipped up and touted the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s success in knocking down Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers – a gaffe that prompted a swift rebuke from his GOP colleagues.
“I would like to see someone that’s very tough and that can negotiate with the Democrats, and I don’t know that he’s that person,” Trump said last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We need somebody that’s a very, very tough, smart, cunning person. I don’t know that that’s him, and obviously this statement hurt him pretty badly in the eyes of some, unfortunately.”
McCarthy’s decision to drop out of the speaker’s race was due in large part to his inability to unite the House GOP conference around his candidacy.
A group of hardline conservatives refused to back McCarthy for speaker, meaning McCarthy was all but certain to have fallen short of the 218 votes needed on the House floor for the position.
CNN’s Theodore Schleifer contributed to this report.