In a recent closed-door Republican conference meeting, Kevin McCarthy, the former Speaker, engaged in a tense exchange with Florida Representative Matt Gaetz. The confrontation arose from McCarthy’s displeasure with what he perceived as Gaetz’s attempt to interrupt his remarks, marking the latest episode in the ongoing clashes between the two legislators.
As reported by Axios, this confrontation unfolded as House Republicans convened for nearly four hours to grapple with the challenge of selecting a Speaker candidate. Notably, Gaetz had previously led a group of eight Republicans who aligned with Democrats in an effort to unseat McCarthy from his position.
While the conference had nominated Representative Jim Jordan for the Speaker role, he had failed twice in floor votes to secure the position. The meeting itself was described as intense and emotionally charged.
At one point during the meeting, McCarthy explicitly mentioned Gaetz by name while speaking at the microphone, as confirmed by a source present in the room. In response, Gaetz stood up, seemingly eager to interject, as corroborated by another source within the meeting.
McCarthy did not mince words in his response to Gaetz. According to the second source, he retorted, “Sit your ass down,” prompting Gaetz to offer a rejoinder of his own. The situation became so heated that Representative Mike Bost reportedly stood ready to intervene physically.
“I was at the microphone, I was speaking, and Matt Gaetz tried to interrupt,” McCarthy stated. “I told him to sit down.”
“I think the entire conference screamed at him,” McCarthy added. “Listen, the whole country, I think, would scream at Matt Gaetz right now. Remember, it was the group led by Matt Gaetz, often referred to as the ‘crazy eight,’ along with every single Democrat, that put us in this situation.”
McCarthy attributed their current predicament to the group led by Gaetz, known as the “crazy eight,” which, along with every Democrat, voted against McCarthy’s House speakership. Gaetz shared his perspective on the matter, indicating that he believed McCarthy was yielding the floor to him when he mentioned his name.
Gaetz also commented, “He gets his Irish up sometimes,” alluding to McCarthy’s occasionally fiery temperament. “I’m not a very emotional person. I’m a lawyer by trade, not a baker, so I’m accustomed to the presentation and listening to arguments without becoming impassioned.”