CNN reported last week that McCarthy has been privately supporting Stefanik to replace Cheney, and the No. 2 member of House Republican leadership, Rep. Steve Scalise, publicly endorsed Stefanik’s bid for the job on Tuesday.
McCarthy argued the impending vote to oust Cheney, who represents Wyoming, is as an opportunity for the party to choose the most effective leader to take on the Biden administration’s agenda.
“Everyone in leadership serves at the pleasure of the conference and as you know, there’s a lot at stake. Democrats are destroying the nation,” McCarthy said, citing immigration issues and Friday’s less-than-satisfactory jobs report as top concerns.
“That’s why we will have a vote next week and we want to be united and looking — moving forward and I think that’s what will take place,” he added.
Asked if Cheney’s stance against former President Donald Trump hinders her from delivering the party’s message, McCarthy said, “No, any member can take whatever position they believe in,” but he went on to suggest that a leadership role is different than rank-and-file membership.
“What we are talking about, it’s a position in leadership. We are in one of our biggest battles ever for this nation and the direction, whether this century will be ours. As conference chair, you have one of the most critical jobs of the messenger going forward,” he explained.
But a few Republicans have warned against the party’s intolerance of members who disagree with the former President.
Republican Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent critic of the former President, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the debate to oust Cheney is “not good for the future of this country.”
“Liz Cheney is saying exactly what Kevin McCarthy said the day of the insurrection. She has just consistently been saying it. A few weeks later Kevin McCarthy changed to attacking other people. I think what the reality is, as a party, we need to have an internal look and a full accounting as to what led to January 6,” Kinzinger said. “Right now it is basically the Titanic. We’re in the middle of this slow sink.”
Asked about Republican voters believing the election was stolen from Trump, Kinzinger said, “You cannot unify truth with lies.”
“Truth matters,” he said.
CNN’s Devan Cole, Daniella Diaz, Maeve Reston and Manu Raju contributed to this report.