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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, on Thursday made it clear that he will not run for speaker shortly after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped out of the race.

"Kevin McCarthy is the best person to lead the House, and so I'm disappointed in this decision. Now it is important that we, as a Conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership," he said in a statement. "While I am grateful for the encouragement I've received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee."

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In a stunning twist, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has dropped out of the race for House speaker, facing resistance from hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus. Apparently unable to muster enough support from House Republicans to be confident of a win on the House floor later this month -- where Democratic votes for speaker would likely go to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- McCarthy made the decision to withdraw his candidacy.

"If we are going to be united and be strong, we need a fresh face to do this," McCarthy said in a press conference after the news broke.

A vote among House Republicans to select their nominee for speaker had been expected early Thursday afternoon. McCarthy's withdrawal immediately threw the House into disarray. According to members, McCarthy felt he had the votes for Thursday's closed-door nomination, but was concerned he would not have the 218 votes when the nomination would be brought to a full House later this month.

McCarthy's decision to withdraw was especially shocking as, earlier in the morning, he had told the press going into the speaker forum that he felt confident he had the votes to be elected speaker.

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A spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed to the Washington Post that Boehner will vote for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as his replacement, and will do so in both Thursday's closed-door GOP meeting and the full House vote Oct. 29.

While Boehner has publicly signaled his preference for McCarthy over the other two candidates -- Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) -- casting a floor vote is a rarity for House speakers, the Post notes, and typically reserved for close contests.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Thursday morning criticized the co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" for criticizing Hillary Clinton's latests stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and not focusing enough on Republicans who change their positions.

McCaskill suggested that the show's coverage of Clinton was "unfair" after the presidential candidate on Wednesday announced that she opposes the Pacific trade deal. Clinton supported the administration's efforts to negotiate the TPP as secretary of state, but she also expressed some skepticism about earlier versions of the deal in her book, "Hard Choices." After Clinton's Wednesday announcement, some accused her of flip-flopping.

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