Kevin McCarthy’s Revenge Tour Gears Up for Opening Night: From the Politburo

Welcome to the online version of From the political officean evening newsletter that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the NBC News Politics team on the campaign trail, the White House and on Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, we report on Act I of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s revenge tour. Plus, Senior Political Editor Mark Murray closes the polling gap between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on compassion and tenacity.

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Kevin McCarthy’s first target on his revenge tour: Nancy Mace

By Ali Vitali, Bridget Bowman and Kyle Stewart

DANIEL ISLAND, SC — Rep. Nancy Mace is no stranger to intraparty battles. Now, his role in a major Republican fight last year — the ouster of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker — is complicating his primary Tuesday.

Mace, who is both a candidate for a third term and a campaign manager, has drawn the ire of Republican higher-ups in the few years she has been in Washington. In 2022, it was former President Donald Trump – although they have since patched things up. Then, a year later, she voted in historic fashion to eject a House speaker from her own party.

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In fact, McCarthy is the first thing Mace refers to when asked about what’s at stake in his latest political fight against a primary challenger who is running with McCarthy’s support.

“It’s about revenge,” Mace told NBC News in an interview at his campaign headquarters. “It’s also about honesty and integrity. And my vote to oust Kevin McCarthy was a matter of confidence.

Mace says she doesn’t regret the vote. McCarthy, for his part, said his support for the Republican Party challenging several of the “crazy eight,” as he calls Republicans who voted against him, has nothing to do with a political vendetta. Sources close to McCarthy emphasize that he is limited in what he can do directly, beyond giving money and advice. His spokesperson did not respond to a request for an interview.

But McCarthy-aligned operatives are putting a lot of money into these races through outside groups. Tuesday’s challenge against Mace is the first test, followed by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good’s primary in Virginia next week. Two more anti-McCarthy voters – Reps. Arizona’s Eli Crane and Florida’s Matt Gaetz – also face major challenges this summer.

In South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, Catherine Templeton said Mace’s vote against McCarthy was “absolutely” what prompted her to run against Mace. Templeton is also a Trump supporter and served as Secretary of Labor in South Carolina. Nikki Haley’s office.

Before launching his candidacy, Templeton met with Brian O. Walsh, a GOP political strategist and McCarthy ally. But she told Charleston’s The Post and Courier newspaper that she hadn’t talked to McCarthy “about eliminating Congresswoman Mace, but I asked him to help me raise money.” McCarthy contributed to Templeton’s campaign through his PAC leadership.

Yet Templeton also downplayed the former president’s role in the race.

“His antics have consequences,” Templeton said of Mace, framing the race as bigger than just one action, although clearly tied to this historic vote. “All due respect to Kevin McCarthy, who I’m sure is a wonderful man: Nobody pays any attention to Kevin McCarthy in the Low Country of South Carolina.”

Find out more before tomorrow’s primary →

An Emerging Dynamic for 2024: Trump’s Toughness Vs. Biden’s compassion

By Mark Murray

The latest CBS News/YouGov national poll presents an illuminating set of numbers about the 2024 election that go beyond the horse race (it’s still very close) and attitudes about Trump’s recent felony conviction (majorities say it was fair, but also that he won’ (not taken into account in their vote).

The poll result raises eyebrows: 66% of registered voters said they consider Trump “tough,” while only 28% of voters said the same about President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, a majority of voters – 52% – described Biden as “compassionate,” compared to just 37% who said that about Trump.

View this graphic on

Call it Trump’s toughness against. Biden’s compassion.

This framework is echoed in NBC News’ own national poll conducted earlier this year. Trump held a 35-point lead over Biden on the question of which candidate best secures the border and controls immigration. Still, Biden was ahead by 17 points on the question of which candidate best treats immigrants humanely and best protects their rights.

This is also reflected in focus groups, like one NBC News recently observed with Latino voters in Arizona who had unfavorable views of both Biden and Trump. Their descriptions of Biden: “Too old,” “useless,” and “incompetent.” As for Trump? “Rude”, “arrogant” and “ridiculous”.

And it’s a useful way to distill the leader’s perceived vulnerabilities of both Biden and Trump. For Biden, it’s questions about his age. In addition to the 28% of voters who said they view the president as “tough,” only 26% viewed him as “forceful” in the CBS News/YouGov poll.

And for Trump, his weaknesses lie in his rhetoric and legal challenges, which include his conviction in the New York secrecy case, as well as his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

What do swing voters want more from their president: tenacity or compassion? The answer to that question could very well decide who wins in November.

🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • Closure hour: After Hunter Biden’s defense team rested Monday without calling him to the witness stand, jury deliberations began in the federal gun case against the president’s son. Read more →
  • 🎙️Trump speech: Trump was scheduled to sit Monday for a virtual interview with a probation officer in New York’s financial silence case. Since his historic guilty verdict, Trump’s rhetoric has increasingly focused on revenge and retribution. Read more →
  • 🗣️ Hostage negotiations: White House officials have raised the possibility of negotiating a unilateral deal with Hamas to release American hostages held in Gaza if ongoing ceasefire talks with Israel fail. Read more →
  • 🌴Palmetto State Primary: While Mace’s primary has gotten a lot of attention, it’s also worth keeping an eye on South Carolina’s 4th District, where GOP Rep. William Timmons is the latest lawmaker to be targeted by his radical House colleagues. Read more →
  • 👀 Watch this space: The days of Federal Election Commission gridlock appear to be behind them, with a Democratic commissioner siding with Republicans on a series of issues that further deregulate money in politics, the New York Times reports. Read more →
  • 🐘 Veepstakes: Many of Trump’s running mates have sharply criticized the former president in the past, including calling him “moronic,” “reckless” and “reprehensible,” and saying they would not do business with him. Read more →
  • ⚖️ Full court press: The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on two major abortion cases, including one over access to a commonly used abortion pill and another over Idaho’s near-total ban. Read more →
  • 💸 Costly Claims: Right-wing media outlets that spread Trump’s false claims around the 2020 election have recently lost a series of legal challenges and continue to face new ones. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have any comments (like or dislike), please email us at

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