Eric Cantor falls hard from good graces of conservatives

Teetering from leadership post

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Conservatives are increasingly targeting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, arguing that he has abandoned conservative principles and protesting his planned meeting with moderate and liberal Republicans.

Mr. Cantor, who just a few years ago was seen as a champion for conservatives in the House and a possible candidate to replace House Speaker John A. Boehner, now is viewed with suspicion, said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican.


SEE ALSO: Eric Cantor pressured to skip conference by moderate GOP group


“I think that Boehner can survive the discontent that the tea party and the more conservative element of the Republican Party has, but I don’t think that is true of Cantor,” Mr. Rohrabacher told The Washington Times. “Boehner is not considered someone who is an active adversary. Cantor can be seen — on immigration and a lot of other things — as someone who is very resentful of what would be the patriot Republican right.”

Mr. Rohrabacher took it a step further by saying that members of the caucus could move to knock Mr. Cantor from his leadership post in the next Congress, even if Mr. Boehner has the votes to stay.

“A lot of people are looking around for a replacement for Cantor,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “Eric is abrasive and is not as smooth at playing the political game as he needs to be to not be driven out of power.”

A Cantor aide brushed off some other conservative criticisms of his boss but declined to provide any comment on the record about Mr. Rohrabacher’s charge.

Not long ago, Mr. Cantor was seen as the heir apparent to Mr. Boehner, a conservative alternative to the Ohio Republican.

Last year, Mr. Boehner won 220 of the 232 Republican votes on his way to becoming House speaker. Mr. Cantor placed second among Republicans in the speaker vote, with the support of Reps. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Stevan Pearce of New Mexico and Ted S. Yoho of Florida.

On Wednesday, Mr. Yoho’s office did not respond to questions about whether he still supports Mr. Cantor, and spokesmen for Mr. Bridenstine and Mr. Pearce would not say whether their bosses plan to vote for him again.

Mr. Rohrabacher says he thinks Mr. Boehner may be forced to change any plans to step down at the end of his term once he realizes a transition to Mr. Cantor would not be easy.

Mr. Cantor, meanwhile, is coming under additional fire this week from L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of ForAmerica, who is calling on the Virginia Republican to turn down an invitation to attend a conference hosted by the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC, a group of moderate Republicans that regularly battles conservative groups in primary races.

“Aligning yourself with extreme opponents of the Republican Party would be an astonishing turn of events — with consequences,” Mr. Bozell said. “Mr. Leader: Don’t aid and abet sworn opponents of conservatives. If you do, it will cause irreparable damage.”

Mr. Boehner will not attend the event because of a scheduling conflict.

“If your position is that grassroots conservatives and Tea Party supporters no longer belong in the Republican Party then it will permanently destroy any credibility you have left with conservatives,” Mr. Bozell said. “Without conservatives, the GOP will also collapse.”

Mr. Bozell’s comments underscore the feud between some grass-roots groups and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill over spending and the national debt.

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