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McCarthy to Trump: Lose the revenge tone or lose in 2024

By Jake Beardslee · November 29, 2023

In brief…

  • McCarthy said Trump would beat Biden in 2024 but warned focusing on "revenge" would make him lose
  • Despite past criticism, McCarthy still thinks Trump is better option than Biden
  • Suggested Trump pick Nikki Haley as VP to help unify GOP and appeal to independents
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy advised Donald Trump that he can win in 2024 with an optimistic message focused on "renew, rebuild and restore," but will lose if he centers his campaign on getting even with rivals and critics.  Kevin McCarthy/Wikimedia

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered some advice to former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, warning him that a “revenge” focused 2024 campaign would lead to defeat.

In an interview with New York Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook Summit, McCarthy said “I do not criticize him on television because I don’t think it’s right, and I know it drives him crazy.” He described having an “interesting relationship” with the former president, noting that he did not expect Trump’s support when he was briefly ousted from the Speakership in October.

Despite past differences, McCarthy maintained that “America would be stronger” if Trump wins the 2024 Republican nomination. “If Biden is the Democrat nominee, Trump will win,” he predicted, saying Republicans would have “a very big night” in that scenario.

When pressed by Sorkin about having criticized Trump over the January 6th attack on the Capitol in 2021, McCarthy conceded “I didn’t say he would be a great president. I said he’d be a better president than what we’re having. I said the country would be in a better place.”

Later in the discussion, McCarthy suggested Trump should pick former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his 2024 running mate. Haley has gained ground in recent Republican primary polls, emerging as a top alternative to Trump. McCarthy argued that selecting Haley as his running mate could help Trump bring together both the Republican base and independent voters behind his 2024 campaign to retake the presidency.

Ultimately though, McCarthy warned that Trump’s messaging would determine his fate. “If his campaign is about renew, rebuild and restore, he’ll win. If it’s about revenge, he’ll lose,” McCarthy declared. “The only person that’s going to determine that is – not his campaign ad – is him.”