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Paul Ryan makes endorsement for his replacement - Freedom Caucus co-founder will likely challenge

House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as his replacement on Friday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Friday that he backs Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as his replacement when he steps down in January.

During an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, Ryan said, "We all think Kevin is the right person to become Speaker. I fully anticipate handing the gavel over to the next Speaker of the House after this term, and I think Kevin's the right guy to step up."

Ryan added, "One of the reasons why I was comfortable making this decision is because we have a very capable leadership team. I think we'll have a seamless transition."

McCarthy has not made any comments regarding the Speaker position, besides acknowledging that there is no race for the position at this point. But he did describe his vision on Fox News Thursday morning: "What means most to me is that in the next Congress there is an opportunity for a Republican to be speaker and not Nancy Pelosi. We've accomplished a lot, and we've got a lot more to do on the Trump agenda."

But whenever the election takes place, more than one candidate may be vying for the position.

Rep. Jim Jordan, who co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, is also considering throwing his hat into the ring. He told The Washington Post, "There is no speaker's race right now. Paul Ryan is the speaker. If and when there is, I've been urged by colleagues to consider that and I am definitely open to that. Right now though the focus has to be on the next six months, us keeping the majority."

The White House thus far has remained neutral regarding Ryan's replacement. In response to the prospect of McCarthy taking the role, press secretary Sarah Sanders said that "The president has a great relationship with Kevin McCarthy, but in terms of an announcement on who he wants to see as the next speaker, I don't have any announcements on that."

While Ryan plans to serve as Speaker for the remainder of this term, some fellow Republicans have suggested his replacement should occur in near future. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) said, "No respect to Paul, but quite frankly, you want somebody who's got skin in the game after the election. I'm thinking that we're not going to show that kind of patience and at some point in time we're going to start talking about that."

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