U.S. Congress leader Cantor leaves political options open
Send a link to a friend
[June 16, 2014]
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. congressional
leader Eric Cantor took to the airwaves on Sunday to try to rebuild his
political reputation after a stunning primary election loss that has
shaken the Republican Party, and refused to rule out a future run for
The House of Representatives majority leader, who since 2011 has
held the No. 2 job in the 435-member chamber, will step down on July
31 after losing his bid to be his party's candidate for an eighth
two-year term as a congressman from Virginia.
Cantor will also be forced to leave Congress at the end of this
year, which would seem to end his dream of eventually becoming
speaker of the House.
But on two Sunday television talk shows, Cantor left open the door
to rekindling his political career sometime in the future and
defended his work as majority leader.
"I want to take what I've been doing here ... and be able to really
look towards the future so I can really continue to promote and be a
champion for the conservative cause," Cantor said in an interview on
ABC's "This Week."
"I do want to play a role in the public debate," he said.
Asked in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" whether he might
run for governor of Virginia some day, Cantor responded: "I'm not
ready to close out any options right now."
Virginia, long a conservative stronghold, has been evolving into a
swing state as more and more Democrats move into heavily-populated
northern regions near Washington, D.C.
Cantor was toppled in Tuesday's Virginia primary by college
economics professor David Brat, who had the support of
small-government Tea Party activists.
The outcome came as a shock to Cantor and political observers and
marked the first time that a House majority leader has lost a
primary election. The majority leader's job is to develop his
party's legislative initiatives for passage by the House and act as
a bridge between various political factions of the majority party.
Cantor's loss kicked off a scramble for Republican leadership
positions in the House. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California,
who now holds the No. 3 majority whip job, is expected to win
Cantor's position in a vote of House Republicans set for Thursday.
[to top of second column]
Cantor's defeat also highlighted deep divisions within the party,
especially over immigration policy and how deeply government
spending should be cut.
Cantor angered many conservatives by backing a softer policy toward
foreign-born children brought into the United States illegally by
On Sunday, Cantor skated over that conflict, telling CNN, "I have
always said that I was for the kids who due to no fault of their own
find themselves here and know no other place as home."
Some leading House Republicans downplayed the idea that Cantor's
loss was bad news for their party, arguing instead that it was a
harbinger of problems for the opposition Democrats.
"What you have is conservatives at the grassroots level who are
fired up like they were in 2010 and it's going to play out in the
fall and it's not going to be good for the Democrats," said
Representative Greg Walden of Oregon during an interview on "Fox
(Editing by Jim Loney and Sonya Hepinstall)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.