On Monday’s broadcast of Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes weighed in on the potential upcoming battle between Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for who might succeed Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to be the next Republican House leader.
Partial transcript as follows:
HEWITT: All right, Fred, I want to turn to an inside baseball story, the kind that you know better than anyone. There was a story in the Wall Street Journal on Friday about an obscure agency called the Export-Import Bank, which I support. But it talked about how Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who’s a senior Republican Congressman and loved by conservatives, a friend of the show and a good guy, is trying to kill it, and how Eric Cantor is trying to save it, and that this is a proxy battle for the successor to John Boehner. Cantor V. Hensarling – who wins?
BARNES: You know, that would be 1) I agree. I think it is a proxy battle. If Boehner decides not to be Speaker anymore, run for reelection and win, and then drop out, either resign or not, but drop out as Speaker, and that’ll be a close race, but I think Cantor wins, because Cantor has been working on this longer and harder than Hensarling has. But Hensarling will have a lot of support. He’s extremely well-liked. He’s just not very well known outside the Republican Caucus.
HEWITT: Now if John Boehner wanted Cantor to succeed him, and by all indications he does, would Cantor be better off if the Speaker stepped down before November and allowed that election to happen with the caucus Cantor knows rather than the caucus that will have new faces in it?
BARNES: It’ll have some new faces. I’m not sure it really makes any difference. I mean, it’ll be a different caucus for Hensarling as well. But those are the expected two combatants. And look, I don’t think I’m underestimating Hensarling, but it’s just that Cantor has been prepping for this to become, to succeed Boehner for so long, and has developed many, many allies, many more allies than I think Hensarling has inside the Republican Caucus, that he’s likely to win. But as far as Cantor goes, I guess as I’m thinking quickly here, probably the sooner the better, would be good for him.
HEWITT: Last question on the two. Who gets the votes of the Defense hawks between Cantor and Hensarling?
BARNES: To the extent they vote on that, it’s probably Hensarling.
HEWITT: Why do you think that, because I was thinking that Cantor would benefit being from Virginia and the Defense industry down there, and he’s been good on the Navy and stuff like that.
BARNES: Because Texans are tougher on Defense than Virginians often are. Look, I mean, I don’t know that that will be an issue that is a big distinction between the two, and something that people are going to vote on. But one thing we’ll learn from this, and if this happens, if there’s a race between Hensarling and Cantor, is that all of a sudden, people will find out that Jeb Hensarling is a major figure in the Republican Party.
HEWITT: Amen to that.
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