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Could Kevin McCarthy Be A Great Majority Leader?

McCarthy, Boehner, Cantor

In the aftermath of Kevin McCarthy's election as House Majority Leader I issued a statement expressing my disappointment that a Republican with only a 42% score on the conservative Heritage Action for America scorecard had been elected to the second highest position in the House Republican Conference.

In Chris Wallace's interview of Kevin McCarthy on Fox News Sunday there was this exchange:

WALLACE: House Republicans elected you majority leader this week by a wide margin, but some Tea Party activists are concerned. Richard Viguerie, a longtime conservative activist said you and Steve Scalise, the new House whip, the man who replaced you in the three job, are, quote, "business-as-usual, go-along-to-get-along Washington insiders. The gap between the leadership of the Republican Party and the base of the party continues to widen.” How do you plead?

MCCARTHY: I think he probably doesn't know my background. I'm a conservative. I believe in the idea of freedom and liberty, but more importantly, look at my voting background. I voted against billing out Wall Street. I voted against, never voted for a tax increase.

I come through the grassroots. My family was not Republicans. I'm the youngest. I came to this party based upon choice. I believe the Constitution matters, that it's not just a few pieces of paper.

That was certainly a more conservative response than we Virginia conservatives had come to expect from Kevin McCarthy's predecessor, Eric Cantor.

But it is also one that I anticipated in a part of my statement that the media didn't use or ask Majority Leader McCarthy about, which was "that all of the candidates running for House Majority Leader and Majority Whip claimed to be conservatives."

Indeed, it is hard to find a Republican on Capitol Hill that doesn't claim to be a conservative; but it is also hard to find a Republican Committee Chairman or member of leadership who will actually stand and fight for principles of freedom and liberty when they come into conflict with the Big Business agenda that motivates such unpopular policies as amnesty for illegal aliens, raising the debt ceiling without spending cuts and various corporate giveaways, such as the Ex-Im Bank and green energy tax breaks.

What has brought grassroots conservatives into open conflict with the House Republican leadership team that came to power after the Tea Party wave election of 2010 is not what they say about being conservative - it is the disconnect between the conservative philosophy they espouse and the practical application of that philosophy in legislation.

Kevin McCarthy is articulate, he has a reputation for being able to sell complex legislation to the rank and file members of the House Republican Conference, and like another California conservative - Ronald Reagan - he came to the Republican Party because of the ideals for which the Party stood.

However, like many other Capitol Hill Republicans, while McCarthy may often have the right instincts, every compromise he makes with Obama and the Democrats, and every Big Business giveaway he supports grows government and erodes the liberty and constitutional principles that he claims to stand for - and that's what is causing the gap between the Capitol Hill GOP leadership and the grassroots base of the Party.

You can't say you're a conservative and then vote for crony deals for Big Business, like the Ex-Im Bank. Nor can you say you are a conservative and then vote to break the caps in the sequester by voting for the Ryan-Murray budget deal.  And you certainly can't say you are for the Constitution and the rule of law and then support amnesty for illegal aliens.

The grassroots have become convinced that the House GOP leadership team is tone-deaf and spends too much time attacking the conservative members of its own Conference and not enough fighting Obama and the Democrats.  

And the evidence that they are right is compelling: Speaker Boehner in 2012 called conservatives "knuckle draggers" and in March of this year Kevin McCarthy joined Eric Cantor on a trip to Amelia Island, Florida to raise money for the Main Street Partnership's campaign to defeat Tea Party conservatives in Republican primaries.

The number one thing conservatives have lacked in my 53 years of being involved in the conservative movement at the national level is strong, articulate, effective leadership.

Kevin McCarthy has the right instincts and the right tools; he could be not just a good leader, but a great leader, if he would turn them toward the right target, and stand and fight for the conservative principles that brought him into the Republican Party.

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Kevin McCarthy

No! He can't. He supports amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. That alone should disqualify him.