Cantor on This Week: GOP should be more inclusive on gay rights
David Edwards and Joe Byrne
Published: Sunday March 1, 2009

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Eric Cantor, minority Whip in the Democrat-run House, worked on re-building America's respect for House Republicans today on ABC's This Week. Responding to comments from those within the party, Cantor put forth a picture of Republicans as agents of change.

Not all critics of the GOP are democrats. Governor John Huntsman of Utah made detrimental remarks this week about Republican leadership in Washington. “I don't listen or read to whatever it is that they say because it's inconsequential, completely,” he said. “The future of our party will be based upon what happens in the laboratories and incubators of democracy. Make no mistake about it,” he added.

Huntsman, 48, has been named a 'third-tier' candidate for president in 2012, and has spoken out previously about the critical situation that Republicans in Washington are in.

After anchor George Stephanopoulos showed Eric Cantor a clip of John Huntsman's remarks, Cantor smiled and told Stephanopoulos that he couldn't comment, because he had not spoken to the governor. “But let's say this, George...Speaker Pelosi doesn't need our votes to pass any legislation.”

Eric Cantor used the language of change, positive alternatives, and unity in his dissection of what the Republican party needs to do to solve the financial crisis. “we need...affirmative plans, positive alternatives to the problems facing this country,” Cantor asserted. “They're not just Republican or Democrat problems; they are so big, so challenging [that] we all need to join together not only in Washington but around the country and to put the ideas forward.” Additionally, Cantor recognized the bad name that Washington has acquired for it's history with financial crises. “Let's come up with solutions that actually produce results for a change, instead of making matters worse, which Washington is famous for.”

Rush Limbaugh's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday addressed his desire that Obama fail. “What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?" A huge standing ovation in the packed ballroom followed. However, Eric Cantor is not a politician who thinks that an Obama failure will be a GOP victory. As the 4th-ranking Republican in the House, Cantor distanced himself from Limbaugh's perspective.

“So the Rush Limbaugh approach of wanting the president to fail is not the Eric Cantor, House Republican approach?" Stephanopolous probed.

"Absolutely not," Cantor said. "I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now. We have such challenges.”

But Cantor's most surprising moment on This Week came when Stephanopolous brought up the Republican stance on gay rights. “Governor Huntsman says that you’re not going to be reaching out to broaden the base of the party, reaching out to young people who’ve left the Republican Party in droves, unless you do have that positive agenda on the environment, unless you move to the middle on issues like gay rights. Are you prepared to do that in the House?” The minority Whip cautiously implicated that a shift to the middle on gay rights and the environment is inevitable. “There is no question the Republican Party has to return to be one of inclusion, not exclusion. And we are a party with many ideas.”

This video is from ABC's This Week, broadcast Mar. 1, 2009.

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