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While House and Senate Republicans might be eager to have the GOP presidential primary wrapped up as soon as possible, they’re not holding their breath for a quick resolution and claim a protracted fight for the right to take on President Barack Obama will not affect their own electoral and legislative efforts.
“We’re going to go about our work in the House,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) told reporters Monday. “We’re going to focus like a laser on that, and I think all of that can be complementary to the discussions ongoing at the primary debates and levels and look forward to, again, our party emerging from all of this with solid support behind a candidate that can take Obama on.”
Still, Cantor has acknowledged that a quick end to the primary battle would be best.
“The more we can coalesce around a single vision with a nominee, I think the more straightforward the choice is going to be for the electorate. With the issues that need to be decided by this election … [having] the choice laid out as early as possible so we can begin in earnest a discussion of the issues” is best, Cantor said in an interview Friday during the House GOP’s retreat in Baltimore.
A veteran GOP operative with experience in House and Senate races agreed, explaining that, particularly during the next six months, Republicans in both chambers can largely act independently of the presidential candidates.
“I don’t think it’s either good or bad. I think everyone in Washington gets so wrapped up they don’t look more than a few weeks ahead,” the operative said. “It obviously didn’t have an effect on President Obama” in 2008 when he fought a drawn-out nomination battle with now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Cantor argued that given the narrowly tailored agenda Republicans will be pursuing this year, “when all is said and done with the primaries, I think we’ll have a complementary agenda” for the presidential campaign.
Cantor and Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) outlined their legislative agenda for much of the year during the Baltimore retreat, and it is indeed designed to address the economy and to “reflect that in a very simple way,” Cantor said Friday.
Their goal, according to Cantor, is to pursue tax reform, energy and highway legislation, a repeal of Obama’s signature health care law and other “kinds of things that help put the vision out there,” regardless of the nominee.