Faced With Protests, Cantor Nixes Speech

Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:48pm

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today canceled a planned economic speech in Pennsylvania because of security concerns, according to his office.ca

The Virginia Republican had hoped to use the speech, originally scheduled to take place at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss “the state of the economy, entrepreneurship and achieving the American Dream.”

But that plan was derailed after Keystone Progress and other progressive opponents planned to stage a massive protest outside of the speech venue.

“The Office of the Majority Leader was informed last night by Capitol Police that the University of Pennsylvania was unable to ensure that the attendance policy previously agreed to could be met,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said today.

“Wharton is an educational leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, and the Majority Leader appreciated the invitation to speak with the students, faculty, alumni and other members of the UPENN community,” Dayspring added.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Cantor and Wharton officials had initially agreed that the audience would be made up of 250 students, faculty, guests and other members of the “broader University of Pennsylvania community.”

But on Thursday evening that appeared to change, as Capitol Police indicated that the first 300 people, regardless of their affiliations, would be admitted. And with protesters expected to bring an estimated 500 to 1,000 activists, Cantor ultimately decided to pull the plug.

Activists were clearly pleased.

“We will still be here, wondering why he refuses to meet with us. It appears he doesn’t want to have a conversation with the 99 percent. This says a lot about Cantor’s integrity,” said Keystone Progress Executive Director Michael Morrill.

Cantor has become a prime target for Occupy Wall Street protesters and other activist groups after he called the protests “mobs” last month.