Kevin McCarthy drops out of House speaker race

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It was a move that left Capitol Hill stunned; GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled himself out of the race to be the next House Speaker.

McCarthy, who was considered to be the front runner to replace John Boehner, made the announcement Thursday afternoon in a closed-door meeting of Republicans.

During that meeting, they were expected to vote to determine who they would nominate as Speaker; that vote has now been postponed.

Sources close to McCarthy say he realized getting approval from the majority of the house, 218 votes, was going to be tough.

"If we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that,” McCarthy said. "I don't want making voting for Speaker a tough one. I don't want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes. I think the best thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor. If we are going to be strong, we've got to be 100% united."

Lawmakers spoke out following McCarthy’s decision; many of them said they never saw this coming.

"Kevin McCarthy, just like John Boehner did, put the country and the congress and the conference before his own interests,” said Rep. David Jolly, (R) Florida. “It was a very honorable thing to do I think he recognized and shared with the conference that he was afraid his candidacy might further divide the caucus, and further divide the party across the country.”

House Speaker John Boehner released a statement saying he will remain in his post until a new Speaker is elected, but he did not say when a new vote would take place.