Days from Primary, Eric Cantor Poses as Anti-Amnesty Warrior
Is it a campaign flier for Majority Eric Leader Eric Cantor, or Rep. Steve King (R-IA)?
Cantor, whose primary race against a political newcomer, Randolph Macon economic professor David Brat, has improbably garnered national attention, has sent thousands of voters a flier claiming he is the chief bulwark against the “Obama-Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty.”
Brat has made immigration a top issue in the campaign, ripping Cantor for his support of a proposal to give amnesty to illegal alien “DREAMers” if they enlist in the military.
Over his career, Cantor has received high marks from NumbersUSA, an anti-amnesty activist group, for his voting record. He's also repeatedly said he opposes the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill.
However, since the 2012 elections, Cantor has voiced support for enacting a broad immigration reform bill, and made a GOP version of the “DREAM Act,” which would grant amnesty to individuals brought to the country illegally as children, a top part of his “making life work” agenda.
The issue is complicated by the fact that pro-amnesty activists have decided that right now, while Cantor is facing political danger from his right, is the moment to launch a coordinated attack against him for opposing amnesty. The move has drawn suspicion from prominent writers like Mickey Kaus that the whole episode is a clever bit of political theater to give Cantor political cover just as he needs it.
The flyer featured an April 16 headline from liberal publication Talking Points Memo, which stated "Eric Cantor Torches Immigration Reform After Call With Obama."
That day, Obama had called Cantor and the two discussed immigration. According to Obama, the call was “pleasant.” But hours later, Cantor launched a vicious attack through his spokesman.
"House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats' immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House," the statement read. "I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again," it continued.
A White House aide told Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein Obama called Cantor to wish him a happy Passover and the broadside was “all staff bluster.”
In the House, Republican opponents of amnesty generally consider Cantor someone who strongly wants the GOP to pursue a comprehensive bill.
On Wednesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), perhaps the single most vocal proponent of amnesty in Congress, will travel to Cantor's district to criticize Republicans who oppose amnesty, including, presumably, Cantor.