Thursday February 11th, 2016 12:08PM

For White House, little joy in Cantor's defeat

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For years, the White House saw House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a chief driver of Republicans' staunch opposition to nearly all of President Barack Obama's agenda. Now, Cantor's stunning primary loss seems likely to make politics even more difficult for Obama.<br /> <br /> Rather than opening a pathway for the president, Cantor's defeat could push Republicans more to the right and harden the House GOP's hostility toward the White House, virtually dooming Obama's efforts to pass a legacy-building immigration bill or other major legislation.<br /> <br /> Robert Gibbs, a longtime Obama adviser, said any glee at the White House over Cantor's defeat was "quickly replaced by the reality that this is the end of anything productive getting done legislatively in Congress either this year or maybe for the next several years."<br /> <br /> Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, was soundly defeated by his tea party-backed opponent, a little-known economics professor named David Brat, in Virginia's GOP primary Tuesday. Despite being massively outspent by Cantor, Brat rode a wave of public anger over calls for more lenient immigration laws, reducing the prospects that already reluctant House Republicans might take up a bill this year.<br /> <br /> The day after his defeat, Cantor announced he would serve out his term but resign his leadership post this summer, sparking a flurry of maneuvering among GOP lawmakers eager to take his spot.<br /> <br /> Cantor threw his support behind Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House GOP whip and third-ranking leader. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas also made clear his interest in being considered when House Republicans vote on a new majority leader on June 19.<br /> <br /> Cantor's surprise defeat was accompanied by a steady stream of gloating commentary from congressional Democrats and party operatives who saw the downfall of a top Republican leader as a coveted prize in this midterm election year. Yet, Brat, the winner of the race, promises to be even more uncompromising than Cantor.<br /> <br /> The White House sought to dispel the notion that Cantor's loss dealt a major blow to the president's second term aspirations. Obama drew laughs at a Democratic fundraiser when he mentioned there had been an "interesting election" in Virginia, but took issue with pundits who said the politics of immigration now seemed impossible.<br /> <br /> "I fundamentally reject that and I will tell the speaker of the House he needs to reject it," Obama told about 40 big-dollar donors in suburban Boston.<br /> <br /> Cantor has compiled a solidly conservative voting record during his seven terms in office, but he was sometimes viewed with suspicion by tea party activists who said he had been in Congress too long and was insufficiently committed to blocking immigration legislation.<br /> <br /> Under different circumstances, the White House likely would have cheered the defeat of Cantor, who long has been a thorn in Obama's side. Their relationship got off to a rocky start just days after Obama's inauguration, when the new president chided Cantor for pushing a GOP-backed proposal for tackling the economic crisis. "Elections have consequences and, Eric, I won," Obama reportedly said at the time.<br /> <br /> The Virginia Republican became a deeper irritant to the White House after the GOP took control of the House in 2010 and Washington plunged into a series of fiscal fights. The president and Cantor had a particularly tense exchange during an August 2011 meeting on the debt ceiling, with the lawmaker telling reporters that the president stormed out of the room, a description the White House disputed.<br /> <br /> But it was more than those frosty interactions that irked the White House. Obama's advisers frequently claimed that Cantor undermined deals Obama struck with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisting on more conservative positions and throwing negotiations into chaos.<br /> <br /> In recent months, the White House increasingly saw Cantor as the main impediment to Boehner's bringing immigration legislation to the House floor, where it almost certainly would pass with a majority of Democratic votes. Obama's advisers and immigration advocates had hoped that if Cantor pulled off a solid victory in his primary, he might give Boehner the green light to proceed.<br /> <br /> White House officials publicly insisted that Cantor's defeat would not stop Obama from pressing for immigration legislation. But that appeared to be little more than a rhetorical exercise, with the House GOP caucus likely to ramp up pressure on Boehner to shelve any plans to push a bill this year.<br /> <br /> "It's impossible to imagine the House moving forward on an explosive issue like immigration after what happened to Congressman Cantor," said Jim Manley, a former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.<br /> <br /> For Obama, that means losing out on what appeared to be his only opportunity to pass major legislation in his second term. The president is expected to now come under even greater pressure from immigration advocates who want him to take executive actions to stop deportations. The White House has held off on taking such measures in order to give Republicans space to move legislation.<br /> <br /> The seeming death knell for immigration legislation also has big implications for the 2016 presidential campaign.<br /> <br /> Some national Republican leaders have urged the party to back an overhaul of immigration laws in order to boost the GOP's appeal to Hispanic voters, a rapidly growing subset of the electorate. Obama won more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012.<br /> <br /> But just as in 2012, Republicans who seek their party's nomination in 2016 now appear likely to face the tricky choice between staking out conservative positions that could help them win the primary and more moderate stances that could play well in the general election.<br /> <br /> Democrats are sure to exploit that dilemma. Already Wednesday, potential Democratic contender Hillary Rodham Clinton said Cantor was defeated "by a candidate who basically ran against immigrants."
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 1 year ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 1 year ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 1 year ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 1 year ago )
New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain are emerging
WASHINGTON (AP) — New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain emerged Wednesday as U.S. health officials say mosquito eradication here and abroad is key to protect preg...
6:22PM ( 17 hours ago )
President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says "there s...
10:40PM ( 2 days ago )
Search for Missouri couple wanted for crimes across the South, including Ga., ends with one suspect dead and the other wounded
A weeklong search for a Missouri couple wanted in a series of robberies and abductions across the South ended with one suspect dead and the other wounded Friday, after authorities say they chased the pair across the highway and through a rural neighborhood and exchanged gunfire with them in Florida's Panhandle.
By The Associated Press
9:57PM ( 5 days ago )
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while, buoying consumers, frustrating oil producers
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while.That reality is wreaking havoc and causing uncertainty for some governments and businesses, while creating financial windfalls for others. Less expensive...
6:18PM ( 1 week ago )
Cruz (R) expected to claim conservative Iowa caucus victory, with Clinton (D) and Sanders (D) deadlocked among liberal vote
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz swept to victory in Iowa's Republican caucuses Monday, overcoming billionaire Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were deadlocked in a tight race.
By The Associated Press
10:55PM ( 1 week ago )