House speaker candidates have pulled out of a scheduled joint interview on Fox News hours after being announced amid a fierce backlash from GOP lawmakers following Kevin McCarthy’s shock exit.
The leading Republican candidates for Speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan and Majority Leader Steve Scalise — backed out of plans to do a joint interview with anchor Brett Baier from the Capitol next Monday on Fox News. A third potential speaker candidate also said he would not participate in the forum.
Jordan and Scalise spoke on Friday, and they agreed it wouldn’t be smart, so the forum is off for now, a source familiar with the matter said.
A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida told CNN Friday morning that the idea was “not productive,” saying the question of who should be speaker should be debated internally among Republicans — not televised.
“It’s a terrible idea,” Gimenez said.
He said he is now having second thoughts about the candidates and questioning their decision-making. “If both of them think it’s a good idea, they don’t have the pulse of the conference,” Gimenez said. “I have serious problems.”
A spokeswoman for Jordan, an Ohio Republican, said Friday morning that he would not attend the event until he first addresses a convention scheduled for Tuesday. And a spokesperson for Scalise told CNN that the majority leader will not be participating.
Scalise initially turned down the Fox News event, but Jordan and Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hearn — a source familiar with the matter — have already pledged to attend.
CNN reported Thursday that the House GOP caucus is scheduled to meet in person at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, ahead of the GOP’s speaker nominees forum on Tuesday and internal elections on Wednesday.
“Jordan is always happy to share his plan for Mr. Country, but he believes it is more important to meet with the GOP convention ahead of the event,” a Jordan spokesperson told CNN.
Fox News said in a press release Friday morning that Baier will conduct an “exclusive joint interview” with Scalise, Jordan and Hearn from the Capitol on Monday. The press release was later removed from Fox’s website.
Hearn, who has yet to announce a candidacy for speaker, publicly withdrew from Friday’s event.
“I am yet to decide on my candidacy for the post of Speaker, but I know one thing for sure. I will not participate in televised debates,” Hearn Published in X, the site formerly known as Twitter. “We should take this decision as a conference, not on TV. “The Republican convention needs a family debate.”
Several House Republicans told CNN they were angered by the speaker’s nominees’ decision to participate in a televised interview from the Capitol on Monday before speaking at the GOP convention, and many of them have already expressed those frustrations to the speaker’s nominees.
One lawmaker called it “crazy” and said “people are outraged.” Another Republican complained they would turn the speaker race into a “circus.” A third predicted the event would not go as planned because of all the pushback it had already generated domestically.
However, at least one Republican voiced support for the idea.
“How can anyone be angry about this? “Our Republican base deserves to hear from the candidates running for this important office at this critical time for our party and our country,” said Indiana Republican Representative Jim Banks, who supports Jordan. Wrote in X.
Typically, intraparty races for leadership positions are a closed-door affair, where candidates push behind the scenes to support their colleagues on secret ballots.
Even before the Fox incident unfolded, the now-unprecedented speaker race following the ouster of Kevin McCarthy already demonstrated a large element of outside influence, as former President Donald Trump weighed in on endorsing Jordan.
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Both Jordan and Scalise have tried to distance themselves from Fox’s candidate forum plans, following an angry response from moderates at the convention, a key constituency of which they are both trying to position themselves as the best consensus candidate at the convention. .
Moderate Republicans can play an important role With GOP lawmakers unconcerned about the conservative politics of both Jordan and Scalise and still angry at their hard-line faction for ousting McCarthy in this week’s unprecedented vote, who ultimately wins the speakership?
Interim Speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry told reporters Friday that an update on the conference will be later in the day on next week’s schedule.
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