By Justin Sink - 06/11/14 03:57 PM EDT
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise defeat is a rebuke of Republican obstructionism, the White House said Wednesday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Cantor’s (R-Va.) loss shows the strategy of “opposing nearly everything and supporting hardly anything is not just a bad governing strategy, it is not a very good political strategy either.”
The White House also continued to argue that Cantor's defeat did not mean that the prospects for immigration reform legislation were dead. Brat's campaign largely hinged on tying Cantor to the president's immigration policies, and is likely to spook other vulnerable Republicans facing challenges from the right.
“Majority Leader Cantor campaigned very aggressively against common sense, bipartisan immigration reform but yet in the analysis there are some who suggest that his election was a key to getting immigration reform done," Earnest said. “I am not quite sure how people have reached that conclusion. It is the view of the White House that there is support all across the country for common sense bipartisan immigration reform.”
Echoing other Democrats and White House officials on Tuesday night, Earnest noted that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) participated in Senate negotiations to pass a bipartisan immigration bill and still handily won his primary.
“You would be hard pressed to name a constituency more conservative than those who cast ballots [in] South Carolina,” Earnest said, crediting Graham for making a “persuasive case why comprehensive immigration reform was the right thing for the country.”
Cantor was soundly defeated Tuesday by long-shot candidate Dave Brat, losing his home district by a 56-44 margin. He’s expected to resign as House majority leader on Wednesday.
President Obama and Cantor have had a difficult relationship at times.
During the 2011 debt ceiling talks, Obama stormed out of one meeting after Democrats charged that Cantor had repeatedly interrupted the president. Cantor’s aides said that wasn’t true, and the majority leader held a press conference where he described Obama as “agitated.”