Eric Cantor: Immigration Views Aggravated Both Parties

Sunday, 15 Jun 2014 04:13 PM

By Greg Giroux and Jesse Hamilton

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House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor said Sunday he doesn't believe there is any one single reason he lost last Tuesday's primary election to newcomer David Brat, and that he isn't ruling out continuing a future in politics.

"I don't think there's any one particular reason the outcome was what it was. If you think about it, a number of things that goes through voters' minds when they go into the voting booth," Cantor told ABC's Jonathan Karl on "This Week."



The Virginia Republican, who plans to step down from his House leadership post on July 31, appeared in interviews on the ABC show and CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, telling interviewers on both programs that he is looking to the future, not dwelling on the loss.

And while many blame that loss on Cantor's stance on immigration, he insisted Sunday that his position has never wavered.

"I'm not for a comprehensive amnesty bill," he told Karl. "I have said, we ought to deal with the kids that haven't broken any laws. It's a principle position [and] one thing that offers the only plausible way forward."

He knows the stance infuriated people on both sides of the issue, but "I think an incremental informed approach to immigration reform is what we need. I have told the president this, my colleagues are well aware of it, and my constituents knew."

Cantor, as the only Jewish Republican in the House, also downplayed a question by CNN's Dana Bash, that religion or anti-Semitism played a role in his loss last week, even though his home district in Virginia has a very low Jewish population.

"I don't ever want to impute that to anybody," Cantor told Bash. "I'm born and raised Jewish, and my faith is very important to me. I know that I'm going to continue to try and work with the lessons that I've learned from my early years in Hebrew school, learning about the Old Testament and much greater leaders than I with personal setbacks."

He admits, though, that he and his family were both stunned by the unexpected loss.

"I don't think anybody in the country thought the outcome would be what it was," said Cantor on ABC. "You know, I'm a believer, as I have said that night, and subsequently, that you know, there are things that happen for a reason. We may not be able to discern it now, and given the perspective of time we'll be able to look back at this, what seemed bad at the time may turn out to be really good."

Instead, he insisted he "looking toward the future so I can really continue to promote and be a champion for the conservative cause."

And part of that cause will be to work to get Republicans to Washington — including voting for Brat in November, he told CNN.

"I want a Republican to hold this seat," he said. "This is about making sure that we have a strong Republican majority in the House. I'm hopeful we'll take it in the Senate as well."

Cantor told ABC that even though he's had a personal setback, "that problem pales in comparison [with what] working-class Americans are having every day. Some are out of a job. We have got to be focused on how we, as conservatives, can help people that are suffering under this economy, under [President Barack] Obama's policies."

But Cantor said he understands there is a great deal of frustration against Washington and lawmakers' inability to stop Obama's actions.

"One of the things that, you know, I want to remember, tea party means taxed enough already," Cantor told ABC. "These are moms and dads that got into the political debate and process back in 2009 after the lurch leftward, with the expansion of government,stimulus and the rest."

Cantor said he hopes to be able to do something to "bridge this divide" in the Republican party.

"I hope the way towards bridging that divide is through solutions," said Cantor. "You know, we've got to demonstrate the conservative ideas. Limited government, personal responsibility, and creating more space in the private sector is the answer to so many working middle class people's problems right now."

As for his political future, Cantor told both networks that he and his wife of 25 years are making any decisions together about how they will move forward.

"I don't want to close off any options right now," said Cantor. "I want to be a champion for the kind of things we're working here in Washington. I believe in almost 23-plus years in public service that I can play a role and not just in an elected office but in the private sector."

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