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GOP Rep. Byron Donalds refuses to back down when MSNBC's Joy Reid questions his ability to lead

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Image source: YouTube screenshot

Republican Rep. Byron Donalds (Fla.) shot down MSNBC host Joy Reid on Tuesday for diminishing his accomplishments and reducing him to a mere "diversity" pick for House speaker.

What is the background?

A faction of 20 Republicans who opposed Rep. Kevin McCarthy's speakership bid briefly coalesced around Donalds for speaker. Across several ballots, Donalds earned 20 votes. Had he won the speakership, Donalds would have been the first black House speaker.

But Democrats have attacked Donalds, who is conservative. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), for instance, called him a mere "prop" who sides with white supremacy.

What happened?

During a lengthy interview in which Reid repeatedly interrupted Donalds, the MSNBC host suggested that Republicans only supported Donalds to bolster their diversity push.

"Do you not believe that the idea was to make a diversity statement by nominating you?" Reid asked.

Donalds, just a two-term congressman, fiercely pushed back.

"That was not the idea, because I was in the room when the decision was made by people who chose to nominate me," Donalds said.

"The reality is that a lot of members actually do believe in my ability to lead. They do," he continued. "Am I to be despised for my youth because I served one term when members know I have the ability to engage other members? Listen, we were at an impasse in our speakership elections. We got that done. Kevin McCarthy is now speaker of the House. At the same time, I was working with members on both sides of our conference to make sure that we can get the job done, and we did. That's the only thing that matters."

GOP Rep. Byron Donalds and Joy Reid debate his House speaker nomination after one termyoutu.be

Reid premised her inquiry by questioning Donalds' "qualifications" for leadership. When Donalds told Reid his history of serving in leadership at the state level, she questioned his knowledge about the role of House speaker.

The motive for Reid's condescending questions was to criticize the Republican Party for not being as demographically diverse as the Democratic Party.

"I don't know that you said it, but [Republican] members have said is they wanted to highlight the diversity of the conference. There are four African-American members in the House caucus, the Republican caucus. There are 56 members in the Democratic caucus," Reid said.

"So just — it's more diverse," she gleefully declared.

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