Cantor taking on Obama, libertarians

House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorGOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington House Republicans find silver lining in minority MORE (R-Va.) plans to take on both President Obama and the rising libertarian wing of his own party in a Monday speech on national security.


Cantor is delivering what his office has billed as a major address at the Virginia Military Institute in his home state, where is he expected to address ongoing developments in Iran, Syria, Russia, Libya and Afghanistan, among other global hotspots.

The Presidents Day speech will include “a strong rebuke of the president’s foreign policy abroad” as well as a “contrast” to the more libertarian views that have grown louder in the GOP in recent years, a Cantor aide said. The majority leader is not expected to call out any Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), by name, and the aide emphasized that the speech would focus on offering an alternative foreign policy version to Obama.

Cantor is seeking to step into a void in the House, where many top Republicans have shown little interest in foreign policy. He has repeatedly denounced Obama’s policy on Iran and the interim nuclear agreement the administration struck last year, and has more broadly criticized the president for disengaging from the world and called on Obama to reassert U.S. leadership in foreign affairs.

The speech, the aide said, likely won’t announce or call for specific legislative initiatives in the House, which has focused heavily on domestic policy with the exception of annual defense bills and votes to tighten sanctions on Iran.

It is also unclear how Cantor will address National Security Agency spying programs, which have divided Republicans and prompted several legislative proposals seeking to rein them in.

This story was updated at 4:57 p.m.