At a rally in Georgia on Saturday night, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced former President Donald Trump. And said this:
“Give us the ability to fire Nancy Pelosi, take back the majority, impeach Joe Biden and I am going to nominate Donald Trump for speaker of the United States House of Representatives.”
To which Trump responded: “Well, that was interesting.”
Yes, it was!
Chatter about Trump being nominated as speaker has been kicking around in right-wing circles for some time now.
Gaetz has previously pledged to nominate Trump for speaker and said that he has spoken to him about the idea — although he gave no indication of whether the former President would be interested in the job.
In November, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that he “would love to see the gavel go from (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump. You talk about melting down — people would go crazy.”
Trump himself has also, in a general sense, entertained the idea too.
in June 2021, the former President told conservative radio talk show host Wayne Allyn Root that the idea of becoming House speaker was “very interesting.”
Here’s the reality: 1) Trump could technically be elected speaker since there is no constitutional requirement that position be held by a member of the House. 2) There’s also no way he is going to actually be speaker.
On that second point, Trump seems to be moving steadily toward a second run for president in 2024, and a pit stop at the labor-intensive job of speaker of the House is just not in the realm of possibility.
That fact doesn’t mean that the continued touting of Trump for speaker by the likes of Gaetz is meaningless.
Consider what we already know: Some of the most prominent voices in the House Freedom Caucus have already voiced skepticism about the prospect of Kevin McCarthy, currently the House minority leader, being elected as speaker if Republicans win the majority this fall.
“We know that Kevin McCarthy has a problem in our conference,” GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told Gaetz on the latter’s podcast late last year. “He doesn’t have the full support to be speaker. He doesn’t have the votes that are there, because there’s many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar, and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats.”
Which makes the “Trump for speaker” push much more interesting. Since McCarthy would need a majority of the House to be elected speaker, a group composed of the likes of Greene, Gaetz and Gosar could make the math very, very tight for McCarthy.
It’s possible, of course, that Gaetz is bluffing, and that when the vote happens he will seek to leverage the threat of withholding votes from McCarthy as a way to get more of what he (and the Freedom Caucus) wants.
But if he’s not bluffing — and nominating Trump is simply a stalking horse for the emergence of an alternative to McCarthy who is more acceptable to the House Freedom Caucus — then, well, that is much more concerning for the California Republican.