The Herd: A Look at the Possible Republican Vice Presidential Nominnees: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

Bookmark and Share   The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential choices to be selected as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one the many Republicans which we believe will be at least considered for for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to a biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at House majority leader, Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor.

Born: June 6, 1963 (age 47), Richmond, Virginia

Spouse(s): Diane Fine Cantor

Children : Evan, Jenna, Michael

Residence : Richmond, Virginia

Alma mater: George Washington University, William and Mary’s, Marshall Wythe School of Law, Columbia University

Profession: Lawyer

Religion: Jewish

(Click here for Cantor’s White House 2012 Page)

Eric Cantor is a lifelong resident of the Richmond, Virginia  area, where he got his start in politics as a driver for Congressman Tom Bliley’s re-election campaign.  But in time, he went from driving the Congressman Biley, to becoming Biley successor and being in the driver seat of Congress.

After getting elected to succeed the retiring Biley, Cantor gained a reputation as an innovator in health care who fought  for greater choice for families. He eventually went on to author the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, which made it easier for families to save for their health care needs through Health Savings Accounts. The legislation became law in late 2006.

Cantor is also known for his focus on promoting a strong national defense and for providing more resources for our nation’s military and intelligence communities and as a former Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, few have done more in this area than him.

In general, Cantor has most famously become a strong voice for fiscal conservatism in Congress and is seen as a rare leading congressional figure who understands how to compromise but also understands that certain principles are more important to fight for than to cave in on.

Eric Cantor could be a perfect running mate, but not for Mittr Romney. In addition to coming from a state the G.O.P. can not afford to lose in 2012, he is also Jewish and in 2012, President Obama is going to need to keep the traditional Jewish base of the Democrat Party together and behind him if he wants to be sure to win several states that he needs to reach the 270 electoral votes required for reelection. Having Cantor appeal to Jewish voters for Republicans, could make  it all the harder for President Obama to maintain a percentage of the Jewish vote that is large enough to swing states liker FLorida his way.

Another important factor is the state that Cantor represents.

The race between Obama and Romney is said to very close in Virginia and Republicans can hardly afford to lose it.  If it is determined that Virginia is even more important to reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win and the hope is that by having a favorite son  from the state on the ticket to achieve that goal, Cantor could become a consideration.;  That is especially the case if Virginia’s popular incumbent governor, Bob McDonnell refuses any vice presidential nomination.  But it is doubtful that Cantor’s presence on the ticket could generate half as much enthusiasm for the Romney ticket as McDonnell’s presence on the ticket would.

At the same time, with Mitt Romney as the nominee, as a Mormon, Romney may be forced to balance his ticket with a running mate that represents the evangelical Christians whom he is having trouble with. Sadly, religious bigotry is a factor and unfortunately, for many, a ticket with a Mormon and a Jew on it may not be very popular. In 2008 we proved that we have been able to break the color barrier, but we have yet to prove that we can break some of the religious barriers that exist in America. So while Cantor may have been a good choice for someone like Santorum or Gingrich, for Mitt Romney, as unfair and distasteful as it may be, selecting Cantor might make it harder for some voters to embrace a ticket which is led by both a Mormon and a Jew.

Would Cantor be a good choice? He would make an excellent President, but not the most likely running mate to help get a President elected. Cantor has little appeal to Independents on a national level and his leadership role in the House Republican caucus will be ripe for criticism and distortions. Based upon the ugly realities of electoral politics, with Romney as the nominee the presidential nominee, Cantor is not likely to be the person who gets the nod.

Pros:

  • Cantor’s presence on the ticket could play an important role in helping to attract the traditionally Democratic Jewish vote away from the Obama -Biden ticket, which is something that President Obama can hardly afford
  • Cantor’s overall record on matters concerning the budget would help bolster Romney’s image as a fiscal conservative.
  • If Virginia is in play for Democrats, Cantor’s representation of the state could help win the state back for Republicans

Cons:

  • Having a Mormon put a Jew on the same presidential ticket could alienate evangelical Christians who hold extreme religious biases and already view Romney with great skepticism.
  • Cantor’s leadership role in Congress could be used to paint him as part of the problem as the majority leader of a branch of government that has a lower approval rating than lawyers and used car salesmen…..excuse me, I mean “pre-owned” car salesmen.
  • Cantor lacks executive political leadership
  • Cantor is involved in an internecine Republican Party battle that pits good government PAC’s against the Party establishment and he is even involved in a few incumbent versus incumbent battles. These political battles may make Cantor persona non grata by Romney. On the other hand, getting Cantor nominated Vice President it may be a convenient way for establishment Republicans to remove Cantor from the House.

Overall Assessment:

While capable and competent, Eric Cantor does not bring to the ticket the type of gravitas or enthusiasm that many others can. And as a leader of one of the most hated institutions in the nation, the rhetoric and imagery that can be used by the opposing campaign could take the Republican ticket off message with far too many distractions.

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Is Eric Cantor Out Leading The Leaders?

Bookmark and ShareAs debt ceiling talks heat up I have been asking myself, “Self, who is leading the charge with the conservative message?” Speaker of the House John Boehner certainly has been spending a lot of time with the President. What he has been doing however is not making public those discussions. Do Republicans want secret meetings behind closed doors with President Obama? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has kept mostly silent until recently when he laid out a plan that led most of his own party to question his sanity if only temporarily. Most of the 2012 candidates have weighed in as well with the line mostly being that those in Congress need to stand firm against tax increases but few have laid out actual plans of their own. The leader that has emerged in the debt ceiling talks has beenHouse majority leader Eric Cantor.

As Speaker Boehner and minority leader McConnell play nice with the White House in trying to reach an agreement, House majority leader Cantor has been outspoken and brash in, as the President himself stated, “calling his bluff.” Far from being politically correct Cantor has emerged as the voice of the GOP during the debt ceiling debate. One reason is his seemingly fearless disposition for going straight to the media after each and every closed door meeting at the White House. Whether the other leaders in the GOP like it or not, Eric Cantor has become the voice the public hears when they want to know what happened during the closed door discussions with the most ‘transparent’ administration ever. When McConnell unveiled his plan Cantor was the first face on the tv screen rejecting it followed by almost the entire Republican party. To the casual observer, who looked like he was in control? It wasn’t Mitch McConnell.

His un-PC ways have made him the poster child for the media in trying to paint the GOP as being, in the words of Senate majority leader Harry Reid “childish’. But in a political environment in which the GOP has come to rely on the votes of the TEA party followers to put them over the top, Cantor’s attitude may be what they need to pull in the support for their debt plans, whatever they may be. The TEA party followers are fed up with the spending and dead set against any tax hikes. They don’t trust the establishment and Cantor is positioning himself as the anti-establishment guy in these talks. Balking at the establishment by making public every thing that is happening during the discussions at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He is also incurring the wrath of the major Democrat players including the big kahuna himself, President Obama.

Depending upon which version you believe, Obama either stormed out of the talks upset at Cantor’s stubbornness and constant interrupting every time tax increases were brought up or he dressed down the House majority leader and left. Knowing President Obama’s famously thin skin and Cantor’s increasing lack of fear of the bully pulpit, I tend to believe that Eric Cantor “called the bluff”.

As a libertarian leaning fiscal conservative I don’t agree with Eric Cantor all of the time. I do however recognize and appreciate leadership when it comes from unlikely places. Although he won’t run for the White House in 2012 (can you say VP pick?) let me be the first to say, before Anthony begins work on White House 2016 should Obama be re-elected, that Eric Cantor would be one of the 1st names I would toss in the ring.

If Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer dislike you…….you’re ok with me.

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