House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, spoke out about the future of the Republican Party during a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.
At one point during the Feb. 27 discussion, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said he believes Republicans have a “great chance” to win back the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections. McCarthy responded almost instantly.
“Not [just] a chance, we’re going to get the majority back! We’re five seats away,” he said. “I would bet my personal house.”
McCarthy recalled on election night that many thought the GOP would lose 20 House seats. But he said there was a reason they ended up winning so many: former President Donald Trump.
“No one said we would win seats. But this is the little secret, you know why we won that? President Trump worked on all these races,” he said. “Even when Trump was sick with COVID … he would do these rallies over the phone for each district and he would have the candidate on, and he would turn out the votes.
“And that’s what shocked—because all those polls said we’d lose.”
The 2020 election was the first time since 1994 that no incumbent Republican in the House and Senate lost, said McCarthy, who noted that the Democrats now have the smallest majority that they have had in years.
“We beat 15 Democrats. You know who those 15 Democrats lost to?” he said. “Conservative women and conservative minorities. Each and every one of them.”
McCarthy said the GOP elected the most women in its history in 2020, and that the party will continue the strategy for the next election while continuing to build in every other district.
Banks, who chairs the committee of the largest conservative caucus on Capitol Hill, said that the least popular Republicans are those who want to erase Trump and his supporters from the party.
“Let me tell you, if that happens, we won’t win back the majority in 2022, we definitely won’t win back the White House in 2024,” he said.
According to Banks, if anyone identifies “as an American, they identify with the Republican Party.”
Banks accused the Democratic Party today as being the party of “multinational corporations, of big business, of Wall Street, of Silicon Valley.”
“And they’re the pro-China party, putting American workers last for the interests of our greatest adversary … ahead of the interest of working-class men and women,” he said.
McCarthy also pointed to a new poll that said the Republican Party is growing in popularity among blue-collar workers.
He was likely referring to an NBC News poll that found that over the last decade, the percentage of blue-collar voters who call themselves Republicans grew by 12 percentage points, while those identifying as Democrats declined by 8 points.
“We are never going to forget those people,” McCarthy said.