WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz joined the race to become Speaker of the House on Sunday after the front-runner, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, received criticism over recent comments on the Benghazi investigation.
Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced his bid on Fox News Sunday. It is unclear if Majority Leader McCarthy, although favored by House Republicans, has enough support to receive the 218 votes he needs to win the full House vote scheduled for late October.
"I'm offering myself as an alternative," Chaffetz said.
"You don't just give automatic promotion to the existing leadership team," Chaffetz said on Fox News. "That doesn't signal change. I think they want a fresh face and a fresh, new person who's actually there at the leadership table in the speaker's role."
McCarthy caused controversy by comments he made on the House committee that is investigating the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012, at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya left four people dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He said that the committee's investigation was helping lower former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's poll number as she seeks to become president.
"I am running for speaker of the House of Representatives because I want to lead the way on tackling the toughest issues facing the United States of America," Chaffetz said in a statement issued Sunday.
"The American people have entrusted Republicans with the largest majority since the 1920's, but with that majority comes a responsibility to get the job done that we were elected to do," he wrote. "I came to Congress to help fix problems, and as speaker I will fight every day to make that happen. I look forward to sharing my vision for the speakership with my colleagues and the American people."