Boehner Backs Cantor: ‘In This Fight Together’

By John R Parkinson

Jul 14, 2011 2:27pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports: 

Just hours after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested this morning that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor should be kicked out of the bipartisan negotiations at the White House to increase the debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner gave a strong endorsement of his top deputy, telling reporters that he and Cantor are “in this fight together.” 

Cantor, a Virginia Republican, reacted to Reid’s speech on the Senate floor, emphasizing that he and the Speaker “have consistently been on the same page” throughout more than two months of negotiations. 

“We're not going to raise the debt ceiling if we don't have cuts in excess of that amount, that we don't want to raise taxes, and that we want to structurally change the system so that we stop this from happening again,” Cantor said. “Leader Reid is, I imagine, frustrated as we all are, and the fact is we are going to abide by our principles.” 

Boehner then came to the podium, put his arm around Cantor and pulled him close, and delivered a ringing endorsement of his top deputy. 

“Let me just say, we have been in this fight together, and any suggestion that the role that Eric has played in this meeting has been anything less than helpful is just wrong,” Boehner said as he finally took his arm off Cantor’s shoulder. “Listen, we’re in a foxhole, and I’m going to tell you what: this is not easy because what we’re trying to do here is to solve a problem that has eluded Washington for decades. I’m glad Eric’s there, and those who have other opinions – they can keep them to themselves.” 

After talks broke down at the White House Wednesday evening with President Obama “abruptly” ending the meeting, a Democratic aide close to the negotiations noted that Cantor “rudely interrupted the president three times.” Cantor denied the charge, telling ABC News that “I never interrupted the president, and in fact was deferential, seeking his permission to speak to him.” 

Earlier this morning, Reid went to the Senate floor to reprimand Cantor’s behavior during the last nine weeks of negotiations – both in the Biden group discussions and at the White House with the president. 

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table,” Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor this morning. “He has walked out on the meetings with the Vice President of the United States. It was childish.” 

Nevertheless, Congressional leaders are due to report back to the White House this afternoon at 4:15 p.m. for a fifth-straight day of negotiations in the Cabinet Room.

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