Rep. Mick Mulvaney on House speaker race: We want to be members of Congress

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 8, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, HOST, 'SPECIAL REPORT': Let's get more reaction now. South Carolina Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. He joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Congressman -- thanks for being here.

REP. MICK MULVANEY, R-S.C., SOUTH CAROLINA: Bret -- good to see you.

BAIER: You were surprised by this, correct?

MULVANEY: I was. I talked to Kevin about half an hour before we walked into the meeting room. I had no indication at all that he was going to do this. None of us did. We walked into the meeting. Microphones didn't work very well. Half the people didn't hear what happened. And before we knew it the meeting was over and gaveled down and we started leaving.

BAIER: Your caucus stuck together. Was this simple math? Was this simply numbers? That Kevin McCarthy, you believe just couldn't get to that magic number of 218 and decided he should step aside?

MULVANEY: You know, I honestly don't know. I assume math had something to do with it I can't tell how much the House Freedom Caucus had to do with it. How much Kevin's comments about Benghazi had to do with it. It has been a very pretty fluid situation here the last 48 hours. So, it's all speculation at this. Kevin hasn't really told us exactly why he did what he did.

BAIER: What about the Walter Jones letter?

MULVANEY: I read it -- I don't think that held sway over anybody.

BAIER: All right. Why did your caucus and your members stand with Daniel Webster, the person you're supporting, congressman from Florida, over Kevin McCarthy?

MULVANEY: Because the reason we were so frustrated with Mr. Boehner to begin with was that we didn't get to fully participate in being members of Congress. John ran a very top-down, heavy-handed administration where we would come in and be given bills to either vote yes or no on.

And we want to be members of Congress. We want to go through the process, we want to offer our ideas and Dan Webster, who has fulfilled the same role in Florida offered that I think better than any of the other three candidates. We thought we can get back to the job of being members of Congress that we haven't been able to do since I've been here.

BAIER: Moments ago, Speaker Boehner was leaving Capitol Hill. We tried to ask him a question about what's going on. As you listen in --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reports say you're asking Chairman Ryan to step into the race to replace you?


BAIER: He wasn't saying much basically, Congressman. But we have reported that he is trying to get Paul Ryan to reconsider. If Paul Ryan decided that he was going to run for speaker, is he a consensus candidate who can get to the 218?

MULVANEY: Yes. I think he can. I don't know how Paul gets over the issues. We talked to Paul about running for majority leader back when Eric Cantor lost and his objections were that he has young kids at home which I fully respect and admire him for that. I don't know how that has changed.
But if Paul decides he wants to run, certainly he becomes the favorite and somebody who might be able to unite the party.

BAIER: If he doesn't run, though, it's interesting to see all of these names surface but how to get to that magic number of 218 is the question. Does John Boehner stay on and is that acceptable to your caucus?

MULVANEY: No, John staying on is not acceptable I don't think to anybody. I don't think that -- there's a reason we're having this discussion right now which is that John simply had to leave.

So I do think however, there's a lot of talent in the Republican Party
-- you haven't heard much about it because we haven't been allowed to do our job the last several years. But there's a lot of talent here and I'm absolutely satisfied that if we lock ourselves in a room for a couple of hours, we could find somebody that could unite our party.

BAIER: There's some big-ticket items coming up: the debt ceiling vote, the transportation bill, the funding of the government come December.
How is this going to play out?

MULVANEY: Yes. This is a distraction, but this is not everything. It looks like it's everything because of the media circus. But we're voting on a bill tomorrow to deal with liquefied natural gas exports. We worked today in a small group on the debt ceiling. So the work continues. This is just what everybody wants to talk about back home right now.

BAIER: So if you were putting your chips on the table who is the next speaker of the house?

MULVANEY: Dan Webster right now is seeming to get more and more support. I know a couple of folks from his Florida delegation came out. So I think he's probably in the lead. He's an institutionalist -- someone who is not going to take sides between conservatives and moderates in the party. He's going to let the chips fall where they may. And that's the best we can hope for as lawmakers.

BAIER: But as you said, if Paul Ryan gets in, he wins?

MULVANEY: I think he's a transformational candidate -- yes.

BAIER: Ok. Congressman Mulvaney -- thank you very much for your time.

MULVANEY: Thanks -- Bret.

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