The left vilified House Majority Leader Eric Cantor after his comments about aid to disaster victims and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Now he’s seeking to correct the portrayals of him as insensitive and overly combative, Politico
“I just think the whole picture of anybody — and me, in this circumstance — is just not out there,” he told the news service.
“From what the president has decided to do, as well as the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], unions, [and] advocacy groups on the left [that have been] coming into my district repeatedly, I just think it’s clear that they want to go promote the sort of description of me that I don’t think is necessarily accurate. It’s all about the contentiousness in Washington and sort of painting me with that. It’s just not what I’m about.”
As for disaster aid, when an earthquake and Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast in August, including his home state of Virginia, Cantor said Congress should find spending cuts to offset the money it would spend on disaster aid. He said Congress “will find the money” to help, comparing disaster relief to a family going without a new car or a home addition to pay for care for a “sick loved one.”
Liberals used those comments to argue that Cantor was unwilling to help disaster victims. A politically biased media presented a “disingenuous” picture of him, Cantor said.
To be sure, if he had to do it over again, “I would’ve said it differently,” Cantor said. “Again, we never said we wouldn’t let the disaster money get there . . . There are others on the other side of the building who think they could go and make political hay of it. I guess I believe in people more.”
As for the Occupy Wall Street remarks, Cantor initially used the term “mobs” to describe the protesters. He later modified his remarks to say the protesters were causing harm by dividing Americans against each other.
Cantor says he’s being penalized for his honesty. “When I’m asked a question, I guess I respond,” Cantor said. “Maybe that’s different than most around here. I guess I assume that everybody’s really inquiring for the benefit of an answer. Instead, what happens a lot in the course of public debate, writing articles and reporting, that sometimes gets lost.”
Still, Cantor says you shouldn’t expect to see any changes from his open-book style. When it’s “time for me to stand up, sure, I’ll always stand up, because I just can’t help myself,” Cantor said.
“I think you ask my wife, [who] I’ve been married to for 22 years, I’m just that way. I am what you see. I am very open and earnest about my opinions on policy.”
To help give Americans a more accurate presentation of what he’s all about, Cantor and his family will appear on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” And his staff is putting together an Internet video showing Cantor in his daily routine. It’s titled “Snapshot of the Leader.”
Among Republicans, there is talk that Cantor may seek to become speaker of the House or run for Senate or president some day. But those are subjects he avoids.
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