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Before the race to succeed him even officially got underway, outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that will air Sunday.

Ryan also said that Majority Whip Steve Scalise, another possible contender for the speakership, agreed that McCarthy was the man for the job. "I'm not saying every single person in Congress".

It also remains to be seen whether Ryan will stay on as speaker for the rest of the year or step aside sooner to let Republicans pick a new leader before November. Ryan said he wished to spend more time with his family in Janesville, Wis.

During the White House press briefing Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to formally announce who President Donald Trump would support, although she noted that Trump had a "great relationship with Kevin McCarthy".

Ryan said in his interview with NBC that a lot has changed since just a few years ago.

He added, "Well our leadership team, I'm saying". McCarthy still has to win the support of the conference and endure a months-long race for the speaker's gavel.

Meanwhile, Tea Party conservatives are actively promoting other candidates for the position, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), co-founder of the Freedom Caucus.

McCarthy ran for speaker in 2015 but dropped out at the last minute when it became clear he didn't have the votes.