- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Cantor emerging as Democrats’ enemy No. 1
During last week’s heated debate on Capitol Hill about a House GOP-crafted stopgap funding bill, there was little doubt who Democrats blamed for an impasse that pushed the federal government to within days of a shutdown.
“Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, started this fight when he said we cannot fund the 2011 disasters without an offset,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu on the Senate floor Sept. 26. “I want the people of America to know that this was Eric Cantor’s idea. This is on the tea party agenda. I don’t think it should be on America’s agenda.”
The Louisiana Democrat, who mentioned the House majority leader’s name almost 30 times during floor speeches that day, derisively labeled the bill’s disaster-relief provision the “Cantor doctrine” — a position she called “dangerous” and one that “would have put us in a very, very tough position in all future disasters.”
“Cantor is a convenient symbol for Democrats to attack because he’s unapologetic about his views, he seems unwilling to budge on what he considers certain matters of principle and he’s much more closely tied to the tea party than some of the Republican Party leadership,” said Mark J. Rozell, a public policy professor at George Mason University.
“If the Democrats want an embodiment of what they believe is the new Republican willing to shut down the government and hold the whole country at an impasse over issues most of the country doesn’t understand, he’s it.”
Many freshmen House Republican conservatives have turned to Mr. Cantor, 48, over Speaker John A. Boehner for inspiration and guidance, elevating the Virginian’s status as both a mentor within his caucus and an enticing target for Democrats.
“It’s more than just the disaster relief [debate], it is the pernicious role that [Mr. Cantor] has in driving the extreme parts of their caucus,” said a senior House Democratic aide. “He had been seeking out a controversial role for a lot of years.”
Mr. Cantor’s emergence as a prime Republican bogeyman has come about in part because Democrats haven’t always been successful in demonizing Mr. Boehner, whose laid-back persona and occasional willingness to reach across the party aisle has won him kind words from President Obama. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, erudite and soft spoken, also doesn’t present the biggest target for partisan vitriol.
When Republicans took control of the House in January for the first time in four years, it was Mr. Boehner who bore the brunt of Democratic attacks. But the Democrats’ prime GOP target began to shift toward Mr. Cantor in June when he walked away from bipartisan deficit-reduction talks between Congress and Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
The recent squabble over a stopgap funding bill, when Mr. Cantor doggedly defended his party’s desire to offset 2011 Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief funds with spending cuts elsewhere, further solidified his role as a principle antagonist for Democrats.
Mr. Cantor’s disaster-relief position did generate some push back from his Richmond-area district, which was the epicenter of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the East Coast in August. But the lawmaker has denied he suggested emergency federal aid should he withheld for victims of natural disasters, accusing the media of overblowing his position.
“The majority leader has never said the things [Ms. Landrieu] alleged — he only suggested that we ought to provide disaster-aid dollars to those who need them in a responsible way,” said Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring.
“Considering that President [Bill] Clinton offset disaster spending multiple times, perhaps she should have called this, ‘the Clinton Doctrine.’ “
Mr. Cantor isn’t suffering politically for the attacks, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at email@example.com.
- GOP tests Democrats on college loan issue
- Lawmakers outside intelligence loop get miffed about briefing structure in Congress
- John Boehner: Time is right to bring latest farm bill to House floor
- Supreme Court nears rulings on key voting rights cases
- John Boehner demands answers on NSA, phone records
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- EDITORIAL: Republicans finally fight back in phony 'war on women'
- EDITORIAL: More Lerner smoking-gun emails at IRS
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Critics rail against liberal bias for commencement speakers
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.