Biden calls Cantor after loss

Biden calls Cantor after loss
© Getty Images

Vice President Biden spoke to House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ If we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-Va.) on Wednesday, a day after the veteran lawmaker was dealt a stunning defeat in his GOP primary contest.

According to a White House official, the vice president called Cantor following his upset loss to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat. 

Cantor announced Wednesday afternoon that he would not run a write-in campaign and would resign his leadership position. He backed Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as his replacement, but Cantor's exit set off a scramble as lawmakers jockeyed to move into leadership posts.

Biden and Cantor appeared to maintain a collegial relationship despite the often contentious fights between the White House and congressional Republicans.

In 2012, Biden told a House Democratic retreat that he "happened to personally like" Cantor, and tried to dispel reports that the No. 2 House Republican had walked out of debt-ceiling talks in June 2011. Democrats repeatedly attacked the GOP at the time, accusing leaders of scuttling negotiations over a disagreement on tax increases.

Biden at the time said that Cantor had stayed in contact with him.

"When Cantor walked out of those talks, he didn’t walk out. He called me the day before and said, ‘Joe, I can’t come back,’ ” Biden said.

During those negotiations, Biden and Cantor memorably shared what the vice president's office described as a "personal" dinner with their wives. Biden's office said at the time they had "developed a close relationship."

Cantor also seemed to have affection for the vice president, with his then-spokesman Brad Dayspring telling The Washington Post in 2012 that Biden "understands people, understands how to get things done, and knows that people can put aside their differences and find areas of common ground." 

The New York Times first reported that the vice president reached out to Cantor.

Biden's call came even as President Obama suggested to a Democratic fundraiser that Cantor lost because there was a sense he had "too little conviction about what’s right."

Although he did not mention Cantor by name, Obama spoke to donors at an event Wednesday about the “interesting election yesterday." The president said he "fundamentally reject[ed]" pundits who said the loss meant immigration reform was dead. 

"If you think that because of politics you want to maintain a status quo that’s broken; because of politics we’re going to forego the economic growth and the deficit reduction, and the border security, and the fairness and the opportunity that immigration reform represents — you don’t belong in Washington," Obama said. "Because at a certain point, the issues are important enough to fight for. 

“My argument about yesterday’s election is not that there was too little politics, it’s that there was too little conviction about what’s right," he said.