House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Monday signaled that just because GOP leadership is undergoing an overhaul, that doesn’t mean its policies will do the same.
In a hawkish foreign policy address, McCarthy, the odds-on favorite to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), skewered President Obama’s handling of crises in places like Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.
“We have lost the respect of allies and adversaries alike. We have isolated Israel while emboldening nations like Iran. We let North Korea threaten South Korea, Russia encroach on Ukraine and now China is asserting a greater sphere of influence," he said during a speech hosted by the John Hay Initiative.
“Wherever we look, the world is less safe and less secure because America is less engaged,” McCarthy added.
He rattled off a list of well-worn GOP security policy fixes to each international hot spot, including providing weapons to Ukraine’s military to stave off Russia-backed separatists in the southeast of the country; imposing a no-fly zone over Syria to slow the flow of refugees from that war-torn nation; and deploying U.S. special forces to Iraq to coordinate airstrikes against Islamic militants.
“We must wage this war against radical Islam as if our life depended on it. Because it does,” he told the audience.
McCarthy chided the administration over the Iran nuclear deal and suggested that since the agreement was not submitted to Congress as a treaty, the next president would be free to reinterpret or scrap it all together.
He also decried Obama decision to “sit down and talk” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and instead should impose economic sanctions that target him and the country’s oligarchs.
Shortly after is address, McCarthy announced he would seek the speaker’s gavel.
“You all know me. We’ve spent late nights on the House Floor together. I’ve visited your districts and met your families and constituents,” he said in an email to his fellow GOP members. “More importantly, I have gotten to know your ideas, your goals, and your vision for our conference and our country.”
McCarthy vowed that if he was elected, “I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people. But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we always move forward together.”
House leadership elections have not been scheduled though they could happen as soon as next week. The entire GOP conference will convene in a special Tuesday night meeting to figure out the way ahead.