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McCarthy: ‘I Don’t Know’ if Trump Is the Strongest Candidate to Beat Biden in 2024

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Tuesday expressed some doubt that former President Donald Trump is the best GOP candidate to defeat President Joe Biden and win back the White House next year.

In an interview on CNBC, McCarthy initially said that the former president could beat Biden in November 2024.

“Yeah, he can beat Biden,” said McCarthy, who added that “Trump’s policies are better, straightforward than Biden’s policies.”

Asked if Trump can win the general election given two criminal cases in which he’s the defendant, McCarthy signaled that the former president may not be the strongest option.

“Can he win that election? Yeah, he can,” McCarthy said. “The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know that answer. But can somebody, can anybody beat Biden? Yeah, anybody can beat Biden.”

He didn’t specify who might be the stronger GOP contender to win the election against Biden.

McCarthy’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Hours later, on Tuesday afternoon, McCarthy appeared to change his tune, saying in an interview with Breitbart that Trump is “stronger today than he was in 2016.”

“As usual, the media is attempting to drive a wedge between President Trump and House Republicans as our committees are holding Biden’s DOJ accountable for their two-tiered levels of justice,” McCarthy told the far-right website. “The only reason Biden is using his weaponized federal government to go after President Trump is because he is Biden’s strongest political opponent, as polling continues to show.”

Not long after his Brietbart interview, McCarthy’s campaign sent a text to supporters calling Trump “the STRONGEST opponent to Biden!” It included a fundraising link, asking for donations that will be split between McCarthy’s campaign and Trump’s Save America PAC; the default allocation is $24.75 to McCarthy and $0.25 to Trump.

Trump was recently charged in a 37-count federal indictment over his handling of classified documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago from the White House. He was separately charged in early April by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in hush money payments toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

The House speaker’s remarks are notable given his alliance and longstanding defense of Trump and his actions. Despite McCarthy saying days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that Trump should “accept his share of responsibility” for the riot, the California Republican visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort a few weeks later to smooth things over in their relationship.

McCarthy has repeatedly praised and expressed support for Trump, who only endorsed McCarthy for speaker this year after he failed to secure the gavel on three floor votes.

On Friday, McCarthy told reporters that he backs a proposal from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., to “expunge” both impeachments of Trump; the measure would be purely symbolic and nonbinding. McCarthy justified his position by claiming that both impeachments “had no due process.”

“I voted against both impeachments. The second impeachment had no due process.” McCarthy said, noting he opposed a recent move to impeach Biden. “What was raised this week was someone wanting to take impeachment to Biden to the floor. And I didn’t think that was right because there’s no due process, right? So shouldn’t you be consistent, especially with the Constitution?”