WASHINGTON — Kevin McCarthy, the first speaker in the history of the House of Representatives to be removed from office, said Tuesday night during a news conference that he will not try to regain the post.
“I don’t regret standing up for choosing governance over grievance. It is my responsibility, it is my job. I do not regret negotiating,” McCarthy told reporters. “Our government is designed to find compromise. I don’t regret my efforts to build coalitions and find solutions. I was raised to solve problems, not create them.”
On a day of stunning developments, McCarthy’s announcement during a meeting before his news conference appeared to take his allies by surprise, The New York Times reported.
The brief meeting ended “abruptly,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., told CNN.
“He’s not running,” Norman told the cable news outlet. “He just said he’s not running.”]
“He wished everybody well.”
During his news conference, McCarthy, 58, said he “loved every minute” of being the speaker and said he had no regrets.
“I will not run for speaker,” McCarthy said. “I will have the conference pick someone else.”
“I leave the speakership with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and yes, optimism.”
Calling the job his “greatest honor,” McCarthy referenced Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Lou Gehrig during his remarks to reporters.
“Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it is necessary,” McCarthy told reporters. “Unfortunately, 4% of our conference can join all the Democrats and dictate who can be the Republican speaker in this House.
“They don’t get to say they’re conservative because they’re angry and chaotic.”
McCarthy, who characterized himself as an optimist, kept a smile on his face during the vote that ousted him as speaker, the Times reported.
“I hope you realize that every day I did the job, regardless whether you underestimated me or not, I wanted to do it with a smile,” McCarthy said.
The former speaker also continued to blame Democrats and the Biden administration for his woes in the post.
“If they want to hold me liable because the Senate didn’t take it up or the president didn’t take it up — that’s politics,” McCarthy said about the representatives that voted to oust him. “This job was never about me.”
McCarthy also had pointed words for Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who spearheaded the move to oust the speaker, calling his actions personal.
“Look, you all know Matt Gaetz. You know it was personal,” McCarthy told reporters. “It had nothing to do about spending. It had nothing to do about — everything he accused somebody of, he was doing. It all was about getting attention from you.”
Asked what advice he had for the next speaker, McCarthy quipped, “Change the rules,” referencing the rule that allows just one congressman to make a motion to vacate the chair.
McCarthy kept his sense of humor throughout his news conference and the subsequent question-and-answer session with reporters.
“I made history, didn’t I?” McCarthy said.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., was named speaker pro tempore of the House under a law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks in the event of a vacancy in the office, according to the Times.