Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican who is one of nine founding members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, said at a campaign event Sunday he'd be open to supporting an outsider for speaker when the House meets to vote for a new leader Oct. 8 .
DeSantis' office said the two-term Republican was spitballing ideas in his comments, made just two days after Speaker John A. Boehner announced he'd be resigning as speaker at the end of October.
"The Congressman was just throwing out ideas," Elizabeth Dillon, DeSantis' communications director, said in an email. "He has not yet made any commitments in regards to the upcoming leadership elections."
But if DeSantis did back someone like Carson, his vote would be out of step even with the 40 or so Freedom Caucus members, who have yet to formally endorse a leadership candidate.
If DeSantis does vote for an outsider like Carson for speaker, it could boost his bonafides with tea party conservatives in his bid for Florida's open Senate seat in 2016. DeSantis faces three other Republicans in that race to succeed GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, who is forgoing re-election to run for president.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the overwhelming favorite to succeed Boehner. McCarthy can afford to lose 30 or so votes and still win the gavel.