“I’ve heard from members that they were concerned about her ability to fulfill the role of conference chairman, to get the message out,” McCarthy told Fox News Tuesday morning. “We all have to work together if we are able to win the majority. Remember, majorities are not given, they are earned, and that’s about the message about moving forward.”
McCarthy added that the next question is, “What is our best step forward that we can all work together instead of attacking each other.”
But Cheney is showing no signs of deteriorating amid her growing feud with McCarthy.
“This is about whether the Republican Party will perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and try to whitewash what happened on January 6,” Jeremy Adler, Cheney spokesman, said in a statement. Liz won’t do that. That is the problem.’
Cheney has no intention of stepping aside as House Republican conference chair, two people familiar with the matter tell CNN. This means that if she is dropped, it must be done by conference vote.
According to several senior Republican members and aides, a vote to remove Cheney from her leadership role seems almost certain and could take place as early as May 12. Ultimately, McCarthy’s question is whether the vote would take place so quickly. But a senior House Republican member predicted to CNN that it is only a matter of time before she is removed from the leadership position.
“Liz is gone. Just a question of how and when,” the GOP member said based on the temperature of the conference, but insisted on anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue frankly.
Cheney didn’t get a heads up before McCarthy spoke on Fox News on Tuesday – and the two have not spoken since the morning interview, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Cheney’s future as a Republican leadership looks increasingly grim, with chatter in GOP circles about her replacement in leadership, as she has become estranged in her conference amid her feud with Trump.
It is still not known which candidates could make it – and who would actually win, as it would be a secret election and no candidates have yet announced they will participate. Cheney would have to step aside first, or McCarthy could quickly vote to force her out, though he hasn’t said if he will.
But with Cheney, the highest-ranking woman in the GOP leadership, Republicans are well aware of what it seems like to replace her with a man. So there is growing speculation that a woman might be best suited for the conference, aides and lawmakers tell CNN.
Some Republican women who may be in the running include Jackie Walorski from Indiana, Elise Stefanik from New York, Maria Elvira Salazar from Florida and Ashley Hinson from Iowa.
Reps. Mike Johnson from Louisiana and Jim Banks from Indiana would also be potential candidates.
This story was updated with additional developments on Tuesday.
CNN’s Jamie Gangel contributed to this report.