House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he had no hard feelings on Sunday after his shocking primary loss to challenger David Brat. In fact, he even plans to vote for him.
“Listen, I want a Republican to hold this seat, of course, of course,” Cantor said on CNN’s State of the Union. “This is about making sure we have a strong Republican majority in the House, I’m hoping we can take it in the Senate.”
Cantor the lame duck sounded a lot like Cantor the political star on Sunday, sticking closely to bloodless talking points about party unity and the importance of presenting “common sense conservative solutions” to counter the Democratic agenda.
He declined to speculate as to why he lost or whether he could have done anything more to retain his party’s nomination.“I don’t have any regrets, because I remain focused on the mission that I’m about,” Cantor told CNN.
Cantor’s immigration position came into intense focus after his loss. Immigration reform advocates generally despised Cantor, blaming him for holding back legislation in the House to placate his right flank. But his willingness to entertain legal status for young undocumented immigrants and his weak nods to broader reform made him a target for Brat, who railed against “amnesty” throughout the campaign.
Cantor, for his part, declined to weigh in on the role the issue played in his race.
“I don’t think there was any one particular reason why the outcome was what it was,” he said.On the defensive in the final days of his race, Cantor sent out mailers portraying him as a leading “amnesty” opponent that cited a news report his staff had previously decried in which immigration advocates denounced him for failing to back reform.
On Sunday, Cantor said his position “never wavered” and was “principled.”
“I have always taken the position that I’m not for a comprehensive amnesty bill,” Cantor said on ABC’s This Week. He reiterated that he still supported finding a solution for children who were brought into the country through no fault of their own.
Cantor evinced little bitterness about his loss, often smiling in his interviews. He did take a moment to criticize conservative radio host Laura Ingraham for suggesting he should have been traded to the Taliban for recently returned POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, saying it “cheapens the debate.”
Ingraham, who happened to be one of the guests on the ABC panel that followed the Cantor interview, shot back that Cantor “has no sense of humor, that’s why he lost.”
As for his future, Cantor did not rule out running for office again or moving to the private sector.
“I don’t think that I want to be a lobbyist, but I do want to play a role in the public debate,” he said.