Cantor Fires Back at Critics

Posted April 3, 2009 at 1:51pm

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is firing back at his critics, calling recent attacks on him and his family “laughable,— and warning that he isn’t shy about engaging in bare-knuckle combat with Democrats.

“It’s never pleasant, obviously,— Cantor said of the Democratic attacks. “But that’s how the game is played. But we intend to engage in the battle of ideas, and we will win.—

Democrats are unlikely to find even a moderately competitive challenger to Cantor in his conservative district next year. But with a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decision in February to run a series of ads in the district targeting Cantor, some political observers have suggested that the increased attention may have shaken him up — a charge Cantor dismisses.

“That is so ridiculous,— Cantor said. “No doubt this is a competitive arena, [and] there is no question that a tremendous amount of resources and money— have flowed into Democratic political organizations. The organizations are helping to fund a series of attacks targeting not only Cantor’s record and public statements, but also the fact that his wife works for a banking company.

Cantor said he has always taken his campaigns seriously and has never taken his “common-sense conservative district— for granted. He added that he is more than willing to engage Democrats aggressively.

“It is all about the fact that [the left] is threatened that our ideas are resonating,— he said.

But the criticism of Cantor has not been confined to the other side of the aisle; some Republicans on and off Capitol Hill were puzzled by Cantor’s recent vote for a bill to tax the bonuses of American International Group executives.

Cantor explained that vast job losses in his Congressional district — such as the closing of electronics retailer Circuit City — spurred his decision to vote to tax AIG executives’ bonuses, in order to send the message that the practice was wrong.

The ante was upped further last week after Working Families Win, a nonpartisan nonprofit group dedicated to changing the economy “in favor of working families,— according to its Web site, began making robocalls into Cantor’s district alleging that his wife, Diana, benefited from bailout funds to the bank where she works.

“Million dollars in bank bailout money has gone to the same bank where Congressman Cantor’s wife is a top executive,— the call said.

Diana Cantor works as the managing director of the Virginia-based subsidiary of New York Private Bank & Trust. The New York headquarters received money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Cantor cited his wife’s profession as the reason he voted “present— last week on a bill that would ban bonuses that were deemed “unreasonable and excessive— by the Treasury secretary.

“We heard third-hand about some robocalls, but it seemed like a random, disjointed effort by a fringe group with little regard for the facts,— Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said. “From what we’ve heard, the effort seemed more like a few hateful radicals making prank calls than the typical coordinated attacks by the leftist echo chamber.—

Cantor called the content of the call “laughable.—

“It’s just so basic,— he said. “They should be ashamed.—