President Barack Obama on Wednesday night firmly rejected the notion that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) stunning primary loss spelled doom for immigration reform.
“Some of you saw that there was an interesting election yesterday,” Obama said at a Democratic fundraiser in Weston, Mass., according to a transcript of his remarks. “And it’s interesting to listen to the pundits and the analysts, and some of the conventional wisdom talks about, oh, the politics of immigration reform seem impossible now. I fundamentally reject that. And I will tell the Speaker of the House that he needs to reject that.”
The President didn’t mention Cantor by name but emphasized the urgency of getting immigration reform done.
“I mean, 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,” he added, according to the transcript of his remarks. “Because at a certain point, the issues are important enough to fight for. And 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.”
Cantor was defeated Tuesday by David Brat, a little-known economics professor. Brat had painted Cantor as a “cheerleader for amnesty” and the underdog candidate’s few champions on the national stage, like conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, hailed his win as a blow to the GOP establishment position on immigration reform.