House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is officially declaring his candidacy for House speaker to replace John Boehner.
Boehner announced his resignation on Friday under pressure from conservatives.
McCarthy, who is Boehner's No. 2, sent a letter to GOP lawmakers on Monday pledging to fight for conservative principles — and asking for their support as the next speaker.
"I am running to be your Speaker because I know that the People’s House works best when the leadership you elect listens to members and respects the legislative process entrusted to committees," McCarthy said in his letter. "In short, I am guided by something Ronald Reagan once said: “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
The California Republican is strongly favored to get the job though he faces a challenge from Florida Republican Rep. Daniel Webster.
McCarthy is serving his fifth term in Congress and has been endorsed by Boehner.
McCarthy denounced President Barack Obama's foreign policy on Monday, saying the U.S. has "lost the respect of allies and adversaries alike.''
McCarthy, R-Calif., who spoke after the president addressed the United Nations, said the U.S. should consider putting some special forces on the ground in Iraq to help coordinate airstrikes against Islamic State militants.
He also backed a no-fly zone in northern Syria to stem the flow of refugees, and provide a space for Syrian rebels to fight the militants — steps the White House has so far opposed.
"We must wage this war against radical Islam as if our life depended on it. Because it does,'' said McCarthy, who also reiterated his criticism of the international nuclear deal with Iran.
"We have lost the respect of allies and adversaries alike. We have isolated Israel while emboldening nations like Iran. We let North Korea threaten South Korea, Russia encroach on Ukraine and now China is asserting a greater sphere of influence,'' McCarthy said. "Wherever we look, the world is less safe and less secure because America is less engaged.''