Paul Ryan Endorses Kevin McCarthy to Replace Him as Speaker

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday officially put his weight behind Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to replace him when he retires in January following the 2018 midterm elections.

In an excerpt from an interview for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ryan told Chuck Todd, “We all think that Kevin is the right person” to take over as Speaker in 2019.

“I think Kevin’s the right guy to step up,” Ryan said. “One of the reasons why I was comfortable making this decision was because we have a very capable leadership team.”

During Friday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn’t officially back McCarthy, but did note that Trump and the GOP leadership have a “great relationship.”

Watch Sanders’ comments below:

Following Ryan’s bombshell announcement this week, there’s been back-and-forth in Washington over whether or not Republicans can afford to wait until after the midterms to vote on a new speaker (granted they keep their majority in the House).

But Ryan’s early endorsement of McCarthy on Friday may work toward galvanizing the party around a unified leader ahead of a leadership vote as the GOP fights off a potential blue wave in November.

Ryan pushed back on critics calling for him to step down early during a press conference Thursday, arguing that it “makes no sense to take the biggest fundraiser off the field.”

“I have shattered every fundraising record any speaker has ever set,” Ryan said Thursday. “There is nobody that’s come close to being able to raise the kind of funds as I have and still can raise for this majority.”