Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a close ally of President Trump, said Thursday that he has not been interviewed to replace General John Kelly as White House chief of staff, and that he is focused on his new role as the House Minority Leader in the next Congress.
“No, I have not interviewed for that job,” McCathy, who currently serves as the House Majority Leader, said in a “CBS This Morning” interview. “I have a job i was just elected to.”
“My job is to win that majority back, and I’m focused on that,” he said.
McCarthy, a California Republican, has cultivated a relationship with Mr. Trump. He reportedly even had had an aide pick out pink and red Starbursts to give the president as a gift earlier this year after noticing that Trump only ate those flavors. Mr. Trump calls him “My Kevin,” and McCarthy’s name is sometimes mentioned as a potential replacement if the president were to replace his chief of staff.
House Republicans voted by a large margin Wednesday to make McCarthy their leader in the next Congress, giving him a victory over a challenge by Rep. Jim Jordan, a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus. In recent weeks, McCarthy has taken a harder line on issues such as immigration; he proposed a bill last month to provide full funding to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico, a campaign promise and passion project for President Trump.
But McCarthy told “CBS This Morning” that he’s focused on broadening the appeal of the Republican Party, not on hewing to conservative positions. “We have a lot of room to grow,” he said.
Asked whether Mr. Trump’s combative style hurt his party in the midterm elections, where Democrats won control of the House, McCarthy said he is focused on moving from campaign modern to policy mode.
“Tone matters a lot where we’re going,” he said. He did not criticize Mr. Trump’s style, though, saying that the president has racked up some bipartisan accomplishments, including work on sentencing reform. “There are places for improvements, and there are also places he was been very successful at,” he said.
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