White House: Cantor’s Problem Was Cantor, Not Immigration

“Opposing nearly everything and supporting hardly anything is not just a bad governing strategy, it is not a very good political strategy either,” says Josh Earnest.

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The White House said Wednesday that if Eric Cantor wants to know how he got beat, he should look in the mirror.

Immigration wasn’t the problem, Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. The negotiating tactic of the House Republicans, lead in part by Cantor, was.

“I do think that this outcome does provide some evidence to indicate that the strategy of opposing nearly everything and supporting hardly anything is not just a bad governing strategy, it is not a very good political strategy either,” Earnest said, according to a pool report. “That is why the president has pursued a different approach (and) … has laid out what his priorities are.”

The White House as well as some immigration advocates on Capitol Hill saw a sliver of a chance at movement on immigration legislation in the House before Cantor lost, and had taken steps to make it easier for House Republicans to get it done.

Earnest insisted it’s wrong to think comprehensive immigration action is dead, noting that Cantor opposed the bipartisan Senate bill the White House still hopes to convince House Speaker John Boehner to bring before his chamber for a vote.

“Majority Leader Cantor campaigned very aggressively against common sense, bipartisan immigration reform but yet in the analysis there are some who suggest that his election was a key to getting immigration reform done,” Earnest said. “I am not quite sure how people have reached that conclusion. It is the view of the White House that there is support all across the country for common sense bipartisan immigration reform.”

Like Senate Democrats have, Earnest pointed out that a sponsor and advocate for the Senate bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, won his Republican primary on the same night Cantor lost his.

Graham made a “persuasive case why comprehensive immigration reform was the right thing for the country.”

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