The ouster of Representative Kevin McCarthy as House speaker on Tuesday exposed sharp divisions among the Republican presidential field, with at least one candidate saying that the power move by right-wing caucus members had been warranted — but others bemoaned the turmoil, and some stayed silent.
Several hours before the House voted to vacate the speakership, former President Donald J. Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform that he was fed up with the infighting within the G.O.P.
“Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?” he wrote.
But Mr. Trump did not weigh in directly after Mr. McCarthy was removed from his leadership post.
His differences with Mr. McCarthy had been simmering in the open, including over a federal government shutdown that was narrowly averted Saturday when the House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government for another 45 days.
Mr. Trump publicly egged on far-right House members to dig in, telling them in an Oct. 24 social media post, “UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN!” He accused Republican leaders of caving to Democrats during negotiations over the debt ceiling in the spring, saying that they should use the shutdown to advance efforts to close the southern border and to pursue retribution against the Justice Department for its “weaponization.”
Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur, was the only Republican presidential candidate openly welcoming the discord as of Wednesday morning.
“My advice to the people who voted to remove him is own it. Admit it,” he said in a video posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday. “There was no better plan of action of who’s going to fill that speaker role. So was the point to sow chaos? Yes, it was. But the real question to ask, to get to the bottom of it, is whether chaos is really such a bad thing?”
Mr. Ramaswamy, who had previously argued that a temporary government shutdown would not go far toward dismantling the “administrative state,” said that the status quo in the House was untenable.
“Once in a while, a little chaos isn’t such a bad thing,” he said. “Just ask our founding fathers. That’s what this country is founded on, and I’m not going to apologize for it.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is now running against his former boss for the party’s nomination, lamented the revolt against Mr. McCarthy. Speaking at Georgetown University on Tuesday, he said that he was disappointed by the outcome.
“Well, let me say that chaos is never America’s friend,” Mr. Pence, a former House member, said.
But earlier in his remarks, he downplayed the fissure between Republicans in the House over Mr. McCarthy’s status and fiscal differences. He asserted that a few G.O.P. representatives had aligned themselves with Democrats to create chaos in the chamber, saying that on days like this, “I don’t miss being in Congress.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida questioned the motivations of Representative Matt Gaetz, a fellow Floridian who is Mr. McCarthy’s top antagonist in the House. During an appearance on Fox News, Mr. DeSantis suggested that Mr. Gaetz’s rebellion had been driven by political fund-raising.
“I think when you’re doing things, you need to be doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Mr. DeSantis said. “It shouldn’t be done with an eye towards trying to generate lists or trying to generate fund-raising.”
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina also criticized Mr. Gaetz on Tuesday, telling Forbes that his overall approach did “a lot of damage.” Of the efforts to oust Mr. McCarthy, he added: “It’s not helpful. It certainly doesn’t help us focus on the issues that everyday voters care about.”
And former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey chimed in Wednesday morning, denouncing the hard-right rebels and expressing concern about the electoral implications. In an appearance on CNBC, he said their actions had given voters “more of a concern about our party being a governing party, and that’s bad for all of us running for president right now.”
Mr. Christie said the roots of the chaos lay with Mr. Trump, who he said “set this type of politics in motion.” He also blamed Mr. Trump for the party’s disappointing showing in the midterms, which gave Republicans only a narrow House majority and made it possible for a handful of people like Mr. Gaetz to wield such outsize influence.
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and former United Nations ambassador who has been rising in some polls, appeared to keep silent in the hours after Mr. McCarthy was ousted. A spokeswoman for her campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nicholas Nehamas and Maggie Astor contributed reporting.