Donald Trump, Mike Pence's Brother Greg Praise Kevin McCarthy's 8-Hour Floor Speech

Former President Donald Trump and the brother of former Vice President Mike Pence praised House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's lengthy speech on the House floor that stretched from Thursday night into the early hours of Friday, the Associated Press reported.

McCarthy spoke for more than eight hours, stalling the passage of President Joe Biden's sweeping domestic policy bill while decrying the state of the nation and his Democratic political opponents.

Though McCarthy's address sparked ridicule from some, others lauded the effort. Trump said in a statement issued Friday that McCarthy had done a "great job" in "setting a record by going over eight hours of speaking on the House Floor in order to properly oppose Communism."

"We must never forget what the Democrats have done, at the highest level of evil," Trump's statement said.

The former president also took a jab at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that if the Kentucky lawmaker "had fought, you would have a different Republican President right now."

Greg Pence, a Republican representative from Indiana, also backed McCarthy's speech.

"Loved it," Greg Pence said. "This is a historical moment for Kevin, for sure."

Dozens of Republicans present during the speech urged on McCarthy, while some Democrats booed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who previously held the record for the longest speech in the lower chamber, said that "I didn't even pay attention" to it.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Trump Praises McCarthy Speech
Former President Donald Trump and the brother of former Vice President Mike Pence praised House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s lengthy speech on the House floor that stretched from Thursday night into the early hours of Friday. Above, McCarthy speaks on the House floor during debate on the Democrats' expansive social and environment bill at the U.S. Capitol on November 18, 2021, in Washington, D.C., in this image from House Television. House Television via AP

Far from the "happy conservative" he claimed to be, the California Republican debuted a new role: angry heir to the Donald Trump legacy, picking up where the former president left off, mercilessly attacking his political opponents and their ideas with a ferocity that is rare even for the divided halls of Congress. The speech was a fact-checker's bonanza.

"If I sound angry, I am," he said as the speech began.

"I'm just getting geared up, go just sit," he said several hours later. At another point, he said, "I know you don't like me, but that's OK."

The drawn-out speech provided a politically pained capstone to an extremely tense week in what has been one of the more divisive and dangerous years in Congress.

Monday started with celebration, a rare bipartisan achievement, as Biden signed the related $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law. By midweek the House censured one of its own, Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), for posting a graphic video depicting violence against fellow elected officials. And as Friday began, McCarthy was deep into his stemwinder, shutting down business as usual.

Overheated rhetoric is nothing new in politics, but the post-Trump era has set the bar for a troubling new normal, a climate that has allowed fiery speeches to quickly devolve into more dangerous terrain—like the former president's own rally cry that sparked the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol trying to overturn Biden's election victory.

McCarthy's speech began as almost any other during the final debate on Biden's bill. Democrats were laboring to wrap up work on the package of social services and climate change programs, shelving their own differences to deliver on the president's domestic priorities.

Typically, floor speeches last one minute during the debate, but McCarthy used the prerogative granted party leaders to speak as long as they wish. As the minutes stretched to hours it was clear McCarthy's speech was becoming something else—a moment.

He tore into Biden's package as reckless overspending, chided Speaker Nancy Pelosi's running of the House and swerved from topic to topic—inflation, immigration, the threat of a rising China, his childhood in California, the Lincoln presidency, the Jim Crow era, even the influence of the movie "Red Dawn" on his politics—all while stabbing the air, scowling across the aisle, his voice cracking at times.

McCarthy called on a few Democrats to join the Republicans in opposing Biden's package, trying to deny the party the votes it will need for passage. There appeared to be no takers.

Tweeted Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the Intelligence Committee chairman: "If you took the worst orator in the world/Gave him the worst speech in the world/And made him read it for the longest time in the world/That would be a lot like listening to Kevin McCarthy tonight. Except, probably better."

Democratic Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota said Friday it was "sad" to see the GOP leader portray such a dismal view of America. "Fear, fear, fear, ugliness, hate division, mean spiritedness...everything that is so different than what I see when I go back home," he said.

It's no secret Democrats are facing a potentially tough midterm election next fall that has put their slim majority at risk. If Republicans take control, McCarthy is in line to become speaker, a job he tried, and failed, to attain before, only to bow out when it was clear he would not have the support of his Republican peers.

McCarthy's overnight performance could be seen as an audition of sorts, an appeal to the Republican colleagues who denied him the job last time.

It could also be seen as a performance for another audience—of one. Earlier Thursday, McCarthy said he had received a phone call from Trump. McCarthy would not disclose what was said, just that they talked.

Theirs has been a rocky relationship at times, even though McCarthy had been among the first in Congress to support Trump's 2016 campaign and enjoyed special status from the former president as "My Kevin."

Republicans in the House have stayed close to the former president, emulating his style. The House Republican campaign committee recently held a fundraiser with Trump, and the party has determined that his support will be vital if they hope to win back control of Congress.

Unlike the Senate, which is known for its lengthy filibuster-style speeches, such addresses in the House are rare. Pelosi had held a modern-day record, having dug in with her own eight-hour floor speech in 2018 in support of immigration law changes, reading heartfelt letters from immigrants, some seeking protection from deportation.

McCarthy had been preparing for months, according to a Republican familiar with the planning and granted anonymity to discuss it. Knowing Democrats would be on the verge of a history-making moment, the Republican leader wanted a comparable defining moment, the person said.

McCarthy broke Pelosi's speechmaking record just before 5 a.m. Friday. He ended around 5:10 a.m.

The House returned after dawn Friday and swiftly passed the Biden package, with just one Democrat who had previously announced their opposition the night before voting no, sending the bill to the Senate.

Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who is part of the vote-counting whip team, said it did not appear that McCarthy's speech changed any support for Biden's bill.

"I think Kevin is also trying to show his conference that he's a tough guy," said Jackson Lee. "And he has the right to do that. And when I was in there, I showed him the respect that a person on the floor deserves. But, frankly, there are desperate people in my district who need every single aspect of this bill."

Greg Pence Backs McCarthy Speech
Greg Pence, a Republican representative from Indiana and former Vice President Mike Pence’s brother, voiced support for House Minority Leader McCarthy’s record speech. Above, Greg Pence arrives for a briefing with members of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on January 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images