Eric Cantor, the often combative second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, sought on Tuesday to rebrand himself and his party, voicing hope that they can work with President Barack Obama for the sake of all Americans.
While not wavering from his conservative principles and desire to tame the record U.S. debt, Cantor expressed a new eagerness to help the needy in such areas as education, health care, immigration and moving up the economic ladder.
“Over the next two years, the House (Republican) majority will pursue an agenda based on a shared vision of creating the conditions for health, happiness and prosperity for more Americans and their families,” Cantor said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.
Because Widdle Ewic and his merry band of Ayn Randian teabaggers are all about health, happiness, and prosperity for everyone [insert eyeroll here].
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(From Left to right in back, top row: Paul Broun, Trent Franks, Joe Wilson. Bottom row: Louie Gohmert, Steve King)
The House Republican leader did not endorse immigration reforms backed by Obama but voiced an openness on the matter.
Cantor said he favored providing “an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”
Cantor gave little ground on any of the other differences between House Republicans and Obama in his speech, which his office billed as a major policy address. But he offered a marked change in tone and a new willingness to get things done on a number of fronts important to voters.
As Cantor spoke, Republicans and Obama exchanged barbs in their latest standoff over deficit reduction, one likely to lead to $85 billion in damaging across-the-board budget cuts in March.
Cantor made only passing reference to the bitter fights with Obama over “cliffs, debt ceilings and budgets” in which he has played such a visible role.
While the two insist that they have a close working relationship, at times they have offered competing visions. On Tuesday, however, Boehner said they were on the same page.
During the past two years, the White House has tried to make Cantor the face of the unpopular Republican House, and has made it clear that Obama prefers working with Boehner.