House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., attempted to downplay the tumultuous week in the Republican conference on Friday, acknowledging only that some of his hard-right members distract from the GOP midterm message in their feuds with Democrats and each other but not condemning the anti-Muslim rhetoric from his member that set off the most recent controversies.
“It’s things we would not want to deal with,” he said of the controversies over the last few weeks surrounding comments and social media posts from Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona.
“It’s [distracting from] things the American people want to focus on: stopping inflation, gas prices and others,” he said. “Anything that deviates from that causes problems.”
The infighting this week began when Boebert’s remarks that likened Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to a terrorist first appeared on social media. Boebert tweeted an apology to “anyone in the Muslim community I offended” but refused Omar’s request to make a direct public apology to her.
The second feud of the week broke out soon after between Greene and Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., a freshman who has loudly and repeatedly criticized some of her far-right colleagues
The escalating series of attacks left moderate Republicans grumbling and worried that McCarthy’s refusal to publicly condemn his far-right members’ antics could further embolden them and inject more chaos into the midterms and hurt Republicans’ increasingly likely chances of taking the House next year.MORE: Rep. Lauren Boebert issues apology for anti-Muslim remarks about Rep. Ilhan Omar
McCarthy, who needs to keep both wings of his party happy to win the speaker’s gavel next year, had a different take.
“We’re going to be quite fine,” he predicted brightly.
McCarthy’s dilemma is this: His attempts to placate the extreme elements within his conference risk alienating moderates who are increasingly agitated by his inability to rein in the extremists and enforce standards of conduct (He should have taken swift action to remove Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar from their committee assignments, and, at the very least, condemned Rep. Lauren Boebert for making Islamophobic comments against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar). McCarthy’s got problems on the far right, problems in the center.CNN