House Speaker Kevin McCarthy openly questioned whether Donald Trump would be the best Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election, immediately sparking backlash from Trump allies and fellow party members.

“Can he win that election? Yeah, he can win that election. The question is: is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know that answer,” said McCarthy in a CNBC interview on Tuesday.

The comments invited Trump supporters to remind McCarthy how much Trump has done for him. The former president is often credited for catapulting McCarthy into the House speakership, as Trump continuously endorsed him during and after his time in the White House.

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Until this point, McCarthy has remained silent about the upcoming presidential election. Republicans are unsure if he is choosing to stay neutral or if he is planning an attack on Trump, as they believe he did on Tuesday night.

Following the interview, GOP members took to social media to condemn McCarthy for questioning Trump’s potential nomination, calling him a “moron” and claiming that he has taken advantage of the former president’s help over the years.

In an effort to appease his party, McCarthy reportedly called Trump to apologize for his statement. He then organized an exclusive interview, during which he declared that “Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016.”

The speaker did not stop there. His campaign team began sending out emails and texts saying that “Trump is the STRONGEST opponent to Biden,” and then asking for donations.

This went against a policy that Trump has that requires permission before using his name to fundraise. Trump’s team contacted McCarthy and asked him to retract the pitch.

McCarthy is not the first Republican to voice concern over Trump’s presidential bid. In light of Trump’s 37-count indictment earlier this month for willful retention of national security information, several GOP presidential candidates and officials have called Trump unfit to serve a second term.

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