Cantor Serves Up Red Meat at Summit

Posted October 7, 2011 at 11:39am

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today promised conservative activists that the GOP would not stray from its agenda, saying the House will continue to fight the Obama administration’s economic policies and pursue further restrictions on abortion.

In a wide-ranging, campaign-style speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., the Virginia Republican repeatedly hit the sort of key themes that conservative activists respond to. For instance, Cantor said the GOP remains committed to “protecting and expanding personal liberty” and hit President Barack Obama for “believ[ing] the best policy is to increase taxes on small-business men and women.”

Republicans “just disagree. We believe in empowering people. We believe in empowering the entrepreneurs in America,” Cantor said to a standing ovation.

Cantor harshly criticized the “failed policies [that] have resulted in an assault on many of our nation’s bedrock principles” and promised the GOP would work to “reclaim America’s greatness.”

On abortion, the marquee issue of the annual conference, Cantor said that while Republicans have worked to block federal funding for abortion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, “unfortunately, this is not the way things played out. And this is why next week we will stand up again” on a bill so “no health care worker has to participate in abortions against their will.”

Cantor also attacked Planned Parenthood, a family planning organization that has long been targeted by conservatives for its support for abortion rights.

“I can tell you that after November 2012, we look forward to a Senate and a White House that will partner with us” to kill funding for “any and all organizations that perform abortions,” Cantor said.

On foreign policy, Cantor also hit red-meat conservative themes, arguing that “One, Israel is a country under siege. Two, she and her people are fighting the same war we are” against terrorism.

“It’s time for America to stand up and lead from the front. … Our security and that of Israel go hand in hand,” Cantor said, adding the U.S. needs to “stand up against the spread of militant Islam.”

Cantor’s “lead from the front” comment mirrors attacks on the Obama administration by Republican presidential candidates, who have repeatedly accused the White House of “leading from behind” on foreign policy issues.

Cantor even took on the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, dismissing the protests as “growing mobs occupying Wall Street and other cities across our country.” Cantor also mentioned the effort among some Democrats to harness the populist movement, noting “some in this town have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans.”

Although Cantor and his top aides have long insisted he has no interest in higher office at this point, speculation has long swirled around the conservative Virginian that he has his eye on the vice presidency.

That speculation had new life breathed into it this week as Cantor’s top adviser, John Murray, exited his office to start a new super PAC.