Rep. Cantor — Lead Singer for GOP

Feb 26, 2009 10:42am

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: I have a story posted today profiling Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the House Republican whip and maybe the most influential young Republican voice in Washington today. Cantor, 45, is being described these days as the Newt Gingrich of his generation, the young, wonky conservative voice who represents a future path for a minority party. (Matt Bai has an excellent profile of Gingrich in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, where Cantor is quoted extensively — detailing the regular strategy conversations he has with Gingrich.) But there’s something of a rapport developing between Cantor and President Obama that makes the relationship substantially different — at least for now — than the Gingrich-Clinton rivalry that further poisoned the partisan waters of Washington in the 1990s. Obama has joked about the day that Cantor is going to like one of his ideas. Such comments are elevating Cantor’s profile; more than a few Republicans have remarked that no GOPer has seen his stock rise more in the five weeks of the Obama administration than Cantor. That’s part of what makes this challenge to Obama so intriguing: "Perhaps the White House may not say this, but they missed an opportunity to intervene early with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to get her to do things differently [in the stimulus bill]," Cantor said in an interview. He said it falls to the president to change the way business is conducted in Congress: "He is obviously a mighty persuasive figure. He has a lot of political capital, and I believe his heart is in the right place."

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