Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected House Majority Leader, wasted no time tending to the conservative activist base of the Republican party. This afternoon, he appeared before Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom coalition convention, which seeks to serve as a bridge between the Tea Party and evangelical conservatives, recognizing there is already a great deal of overlap.
McCarthy’s talk was light on both issues and specifics, but accomplished its purpose of letting conservatives know where he was coming from and presenting himself as approachable. He began by assuring people he “wasn’t ashamed to be a Christian,” and proceeded to discuss his faith. He then segued into recounting his struggle to rise from humble beginnings as the son of a firefighter, and said American exceptionalism had real meaning for him because “in no other country could I have become Majority Leader.”
He insisted he hadn’t forgotten his roots: “I still sleep on the couch inside my office, where I often ponder what I should do under portraits of both Lincoln and Reagan.” He said the lessons he’s learned from studying their lives included a firm belief in being optimistic while at the same time not leaving tough decisions to future generations.
He did make one promise to the crowd: “I pledge to try and unite our movement while having the courage to lead and the wisdom to listen.”
The reaction from the crowd was generally favorable, with one participant telling me: “It’s early to see if he means what he says, but there was none of the uneasiness and hesitancy that Eric Cantor used to show in outlining his agenda.”