Kevin McCarthy Drops Out of House Speaker Race

WASHINGTON — Representative Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly took himself out of the race to succeed John A. Boehner as House speaker, apparently undone by the same forces that drove Mr. Boehner to resign.

Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy was damaged when he suggested in an interview on Fox News last week that the House committee investigating Benghazi had the political aim of damaging Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

As shocked members left the room there was a sense of total disarray, with no clear path forward and no set date for a new vote. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said that in dropping out of race, Mr. McCarthy told the room, I’m not the one to unify the party.

A group of about 40 hard-line House conservatives announced Wednesday night that they would support Representative Daniel Webster of Florida, making it unclear whether Mr. McCarthy could assemble the 218 votes on the floor that he would need to be elected later this month.

Representative David Jolly, Republican of Florida, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, which opposed Mr. McCarthy, was asked how the party could unify. It’s going to take a hard family conversation, he said.