EXCLUSIVE: Former House Speaker Paul Ryan has no doubt Kevin McCarthy will clinch the speakership role in January, blames former President Donald Trump for the GOP's underwhelming midterm results and says Trump could lose to President Biden in a 2024 matchup.
McCarthy, R-Calif., is facing a challenge to become speaker from Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and the Freedom Caucus. The current minority leader beat Biggs in a closed-door GOP vote 188-31 on Wednesday. To become speaker, McCarthy will need at least 218 votes if the entire 435-member House is seated and voting.
Ryan, who served as speaker from 2015-2019, said McCarthy will win in January.
'I think he's going to win. I think Kevin's the right man for the job. I think everybody knows it,' Ryan told Fox News Digital. 'And I have every reason to expect that he will become speaker of the House.'
When asked whether Trump's re-election pitch to voters was compelling, Ryan simply said, 'No.' Trump announced he will run for president in 2024 on Tuesday evening from his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, home.
'No, because I think the evidence is really clear. With Trump we lose, with somebody else we're going to win. We lost the House in ‘18. We lost the presidency and the Senate in ’20. We didn't get the Senate [in the midterms], and we got a small majority in the House, largely because of Trump,' he explained.
'There are other factors, but I think the main takeaway here is the evidence is crystal clear. Trump is costing us elections, and we know that there's a great generation of capable conservatives who are more capable of winning the general election than Donald Trump. And I think one of those people will be our nominee and probably win the White House,' Ryan told Fox News Digital.
The former speaker also said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is emerging as a 2024 GOP presidential candidate front-runner.
'I think he's one of them. I think it's early to say, but I think we've got a lot of good people and I think Ron is one of them. I think DeSantis is a great candidate and I think there are other great candidates that are going to enter this race,' he said.
'I think anybody not named Trump can beat Biden,' Ryan added.