House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) ripped the media in a speech Tuesday to the Ripon Society, arguing press coverage is partly responsible for the GOP’s messaging woes.
Cantor, who has tried to recast the image of the GOP with his Making Life Work agenda, said the party’s economic message is often drowned out by coverage of debt and deficits.
“The media has done a great job of sort of shoving us in the corner, because all they say we are concerned with is somehow balancing the budget and cutting spending and taking things away from people,” Cantor said. “What we’re trying to say is that we need to do those things in order to reenergize the opportunity machine of America. We’re about giving people opportunity. And that’s really what our agenda this year is about.”
But Cantor said Republicans shoulder much of the blame for the party’s failure to capture the White House and Senate in last year’s election. He said the party must do a better job of speaking to the concerns of people at the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
Republicans have focused recently on crafting a more appealing political message, most notably in relation to minority voters. Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus has been traveling across the country meeting with minority leaders, and the RNC issued a post-campaign evaluation that called for more substantive engagement with minority communities.
Some in the GOP have also acknowledged the need to soften the party’s economic message, arguing that it’s easier for President Obama and Democrats to sell a message about government benefits than it is for Republicans to sell a vision of personal responsibility.
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Still, Cantor said Republican leadership is committed to “fiscal discipline” that he said would drive economic growth.
“We’ve committed ourselves over the last couple months to try to set in place a plan to get this economy back on track,” the majority leader said. “We have taken the steps necessary. We have stood by the sequester. And we’ve said we’re going to maintain our commitment to fiscal discipline. No one can convince us that that’s not vital to economic growth.”
Cantor said the GOP needs to show how a small government is a more effective one. He pointed to initiatives House leadership is backing, such as expanding school choices for parents, and a bill that would allow employees to choose how they would like to get reimbursed for overtime.