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GOP in Tumult After McCarthy Exit      10/09 06:27

   Jolted by political lighting for the second time in two weeks, House 
Republicans are staring at turmoil and uncertainty after Majority Leader Kevin 
McCarthy's astonishing decision to abandon his campaign to become the chamber's 
next speaker.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jolted by political lighting for the second time in two 
weeks, House Republicans are staring at turmoil and uncertainty after Majority 
Leader Kevin McCarthy's astonishing decision to abandon his campaign to become 
the chamber's next speaker.

   GOP lawmakers, who lately have acted more like feuding relatives than a 
unified party, were meeting Friday to discuss their next move. On Thursday, 
Republicans munching barbecue at a closed-door meeting where they seemed ready 
to coronate McCarthy as their candidate for speaker were aghast when the 
Californian rose and told them he wouldn't seek the job.

   Facing opposition from a band of hard-right conservatives, some McCarthy 
supporters said he concluded he would have fallen short of the 218 votes needed 
when the full House formally elects the speaker. Others said he could have won 
but GOP lawmakers backing him would have infuriated conservative constituents 
back home, jeopardizing their own careers.

   "It was only going to get worse," McCarthy said in an interview published 
Thursday night by The Wall Street Journal. He added, "This was for the good of 
the team."

   McCarthy's announcement leaves the race to succeed the departing Speaker 
John Boehner wide open. The Ohio Republican delivered his own shocker on Sept. 
25 when he said he would retire from Congress Oct. 30.

   "Two people now have taken themselves out of the running," said Rep. Ileana 
Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. "And I hope we will have candidate who can lift up our 

   Boehner said he would remain in his job until a new speaker was installed, 
an ironic consequence considering conservatives' desire to shove him out the 
door. That election was set for Oct. 29, but its date is now uncertain.

   Attempting to calm the waters, 19 Republicans including several committee 
chairs wrote GOP lawmakers that they shouldn't pick a speaker until agreeing on 
"a shared set of goals and governing vision that benefits the nation and our 

   McCarthy had two rivals for the post, Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and 
Daniel Webster, R-Fla. Neither had broad backing among the House's 247 

   Several other potential candidates surfaced. Chief among them was Rep. Paul 
Ryan, R-Wis., the GOP's 2012 vice presidential pick. Boehner and McCarthy were 
pressing him to seek the job.

   At midday, Ryan, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said he was 
uninterested in the top post. With pressure mounting, he later declined to 
flatly rule out a run.

   "I think our conference will come together and unify. We'll find a way to do 
it," he told reporters.

   And on Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa said in a nationally broadcast interview, 
"I think that I can be potentially a candidate." Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning 
Joe" program, Issa said the Freedom Caucus is being unfairly accused of being 
willing to shut down the government if its members don't get their way on 
conservative causes such as stripping Planned Parenthood of its federal funding.

   "They've been denied by the K. St., if you will, influence," said Issa of 
the House conservatives, referring to capital city neighborhood where many 
lobbyists are based.

   The tumult was escalating as the GOP-run Congress hurtled toward showdowns 
with President Barack Obama over spending and borrowing. If not resolved, those 
face-offs could result in a partial government shutdown or an unprecedented 
federal default.

   Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., believe either 
scenario would severely wound GOP prospects in next year's presidential and 
congressional elections. Some conservatives seem eager to use the 
confrontations to dare Obama to veto GOP priorities like cutting government 
spending and halting federal payments to Planned Parenthood.

   After McCarthy revealed his decision to his colleagues --- lawmakers said he 
did so standing beside his wife, Judy --- the five-term lawmaker told 
reporters, "If we are going to be strong, we've got to be 100 percent united."

   McCarthy had been strongly opposed by a band of 30 to 40 conservatives 
called the House Freedom Caucus. They consider him too close to Boehner, whose 
leadership team had punished some conservatives by removing them from 

   Underscoring the distrust buffeting the GOP, conservative Rep. Thomas 
Massie, R-Ky., said he believed the leaders postponed the speaker vote because 
McCarthy couldn't win.

   "The question in my mind is, are these free and fair elections?" Massie 
said. "If they don't have the votes next time, will they postpone it again?"

   Other Republicans fired back. Moderate Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., a McCarthy 
supporter, said he'd predicted that Republicans who forced Boehner's departure 
"will try to frag the next guy. That's what we just saw happen."

   Spotlighting the turbulence, Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., became the second 
lawmaker in a month to leave the Freedom Caucus. A McCarthy supporter, he said 
he has "a clear idea of the qualities a leader will need" to unite Republicans. 
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., quit in September, complaining that the caucus' 
tactics were hurting the GOP.

   Speaking to reporters, McCarthy dismissed a suggestion that his decision was 
related to a letter by conservative Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. It said 
leadership candidates should withdraw "if there are any misdeeds he has 
committed since joining Congress" that would be embarrassing.

   Jones said his letter was based on problems of past lawmakers including 
former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., who abandoned a bid to become speaker after 
admitting to extramarital affairs.

   "I have no idea what anybody does up here after 5 o'clock," Jones told a 


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