The move came without warning as House Republicans were in a closed-door meeting to select their nominee for speaker, with McCarthy’s wife and kids in the room. Boehner subsequently postponed the vote.
“I think I shocked some of you, huh?” McCarthy told reporters following the decision.
Boehner is poised to resign at the end of the month. There is no clear successor who can overcome the deep divisions in the party and win the post. An influential group of conservatives endorsed a long-shot candidate, Rep. Daniel Webster, on Wednesday, placing McCarthy’s ability to win the House floor vote later this month in doubt.
“If we’re going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to do that,” McCarthy said, adding that he did not want to win the race on the House floor with only enough votes to squeak by. (Read more from “Kevin McCarthy Drops out of Speaker Race” HERE)