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The Lid: Who is the Leader of the GOP?

by Andrew Rafferty and Carrie Dann /
Image: House Republican Leaders Hold Conference Meeting
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (C) speaks as House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) and House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) listen during a news briefing after a House Republican conference meeting June 22, 2011 at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

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Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… With no clear frontrunner to replace John Boehner, the GOP has turned to its greatest digital minds to create a revolutionary new technology described as “Uber… but for Speaker of the House.”

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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND

Here’s a question that we don’t really have an answer for today: Who is the leader of the Republican Party?

In past years and past presidential cycles, there’s almost always been an answer on both sides of the aisle, whether it’s been the president, each sides’ leading presidential candidates, the Speaker of the House, or at the very least, the most unifying lawmaker on Capitol Hill. With Kevin McCarthy’s sudden withdrawal from the race to replace John Boehner, Republicans are facing the notion that they really are a party without a leader - in Congress OR out of it -- able to unify the GOP’s right and center-right wings. Yes, the leading GOP presidential contender right now is Donald Trump, but - although he’s no longer underwater with his own party - few would argue that he’s a unifying figure. Bush, who four months ago would have been viewed as the de facto GOP grownup, is grappling with skepticism from his own establishment base. Paul Ryan, the one member of Congress seen as a viable uniter of the House conference, has said countless times that he doesn’t want the job. (Although Boehner is reportedly pushing him to reconsider.) And even Mitch McConnell hasn’t had any easy time leading his Senate Republican troops.

So here’s our thought exercise: Kevin McCarthy said today that “the best thing for our party is to have 247 votes on the floor” for speaker. Forget a member of Congress, can any REPUBLICAN right now get anywhere close to that?

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • Here’s our wrap on Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt decision to drop his bid for House Speaker.
  • Republicans uniformly said they were shocked by Rep. Kevin McCarthy's decision Thursday to end his bid for House speaker, while Democrats said it shows that Congressional Republicans are in disarray.
  • Ben Carson is trying to do some cleanup after he gave muddled answers to a series of questions about the debt ceiling.
  • Here’s a smart piece from Jordan Frasier on how Jeb Bush is using his Iowa tour to press the reset button.
  • Senate Democrats unveiled a new gun control proposal.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

BIDEN: Progressive-minded reporter Greg Sargent writes in the Washington Post that Joe Biden needs to fish or cut bait.

PAUL: He’s auctioning off the signed copy of “Hard Choices” Hillary Clinton sent him, with an added message from him.

FIORINA: The New York Times details the reclusive Los Angeles billionaire who is backing Fiorina.

CARSON: He said he was once in a Popeye’s while it was being robbed in Baltimore, telling the gunman “I believe that you want the guy behind the counter.”

FOR THE RECORD…

“I don’t know. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom.”

-- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s response when asked by National Review if the House is governable.

TOMORROW’S SKED

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz address the Republican Liberty Caucus in New Hampshire.

Marco Rubio campaigns in Nevada.

Bernie Sanders holds a rally in Tucson, Arizona.

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