Tom Donohue: I Feel Badly For Eric Cantor

Tom Donohue: I Feel Badly For Eric Cantor

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Alix Steel, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President &  CEO Tom Donohue said this morning on “Market Makers” that he “feels badly” for Eric Cantor and  that Eric Cantor “provided a lot of help and balance and we will miss him.” Donohue went on to say that he does not see Eric Cantor’s primary defeat as a vote against big business.

Donohue also said:

  • “We weren’t in [Cantor’s] primary”
  • On David Brat, “It was sort of an attractive professor in a very, very conservative district”
  • “We’re not going to fold up our tent and go home” because of one race.
  • Not worried about Tea Party; “We have lots of allies” among lawmakers
  • “We don’t have to worry about people working with us. Everybody will work with us.”
  • FOP Sen. race “far from over” in Mississippi.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz is not behaving in a more “calm and moderate” tone talking about issues; “he understands that being aggressive while you’re getting into the game is not exactly what you can be if you want to lead the game”
  • Chamber isn’t in the game of choosing GOP leaders; says John Boehner’s job as speaker of House isn’t in trouble.
  • Does not believe effort to overhaul immigration laws “is dead.”

COC’s Donohue: Not Folding Tent After Eric Cantor’s Loss

Tom Donohue on reaction to Eric Cantor’s loss in Virginia:

“Well, I think Eric Cantor is a very serious person who was working on some challenging and controversial issues, and who was in the leadership.  And I think he provided a lot of help and balance and we’ll miss him.”

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On whether Eric Cantor loss was a vote against the Chamber of Commerce and big business:

“Oh come on.  We have been in 12 primaries since we started this.  We have not lost one yet.  We weren’t in that primary.  And the headline is sort of interesting.  Your headline, the headlines in the press — the Tea Party beats Eric Cantor.  the Tea Party had nothing to do with this.  They weren’t in; they didn’t put any money in; they didn’t have any people there. It was sort of an attractive professor in a very, very conservative district in Virginia.  And everybody was surprised.”

“I think you ought to look at what’s happened throughout the primary process, which is a recognition with half of the voting population — they’re having primaries in both parties — that they ought to put people in place who have, A, have a chance at being elected, and, B, if they are elected, will go in and try to do things to create jobs, to drive the economy, and to put some common sense back into people working together and get a result.”

On not seeing this Eric Cantor defeat coming:

“You didn’t see it and I didn’t see it, but there are 435 members of the Congress.  And I think it’s important — I feel badly for Eric.  He’s a very talented guy.  But we’re not going to fold up our tent and go home and not participate in the Boy Scout meeting because of one race.  I look at what is happening across the whole system and I think people across this country are looking for folks that want to make something happen, that want to bring this country to a point where we create more jobs, where we drive economic growth and deal with the problems we have.”

On immigration playing a role in Eric Cantor loss:

“That would be for us to find out.  I don’t know that that’s the case. We’re doing a lot of afterlook. I don’t believe immigration is dead.  I think we might have some change in the timing, but there are enough people in the Congress — yesterday, anyway — who would have easily voted for an immigration bill because we need an immigration bill.  We need an immigration bill for four or five reasons.  We educate all of these high-end people and we send them home.  On the lower end, we need all these workers to come here, or you’re going to have to go and pick your mother-in-law up at the nursing home and bring her home to live with you.  These are critical issues for us as a country, and we are going to deal with them, whether we deal with them now or we deal with them when it gets worse.   And we’re better off to deal with them.”

On whether we will see Tea Partiers or outsiders taking on state leadership positions that do disrupt that agenda:

“You know, what I have found over a long, long period of time, is that whoever eventually ends up in leadership positions has to deal with the responsibility of that position.  When you are the outside person trying to work your way in, you can say all kinds of things.  When you are the person with a responsibility, when the American people look to you to make decisions that affect them and their children, our economy and our security, leadership all over the place does a better job.”

“There are a lot of serious people that have been nominated and been elected.  Ted Cruz, by the way, he just had a big deal down at the Republican conference in Texas.  And what was he doing?  He was more calm and moderate and talking about issues, because he understands that being aggressive while you’re getting into the game is not exactly what you can be if you want to lead the game.

And I think you’ll find that — look, we’ve been at this a long, long time in this country and we’re going to stay at it.  And you’re going to end up doing, more often than not, what’s good for the American people.”

On businesses doing well despite losing a big ally [Eric Cantor]:

“We have lots of allies.  Look, you can try to make this the story of the year, but it’s not going to last very long.  Because we’ve got the elections coming up in two weeks.  We’ve got other activities that we all have to deal with around the world.  We have serious questions of what we are going to do about jobs and growth and, yes, immigration.  We have serious questions on what we’re going to do about infrastructure and on Social Security, because in just a few weeks, we’re going to lose the — one of the Social Security programs and have to deal with that.  So the bottom line here is I feel badly for Eric Cantor, because he’s a great servant to the American people.”

On whether he has spoken to Eric Cantor yet:

“Not yet.  Been here.  But at the bottom line is, we’ve got to deal with that.  We — this is is so exciting.  I know it’s great news.”

On whether John Boehner’s job is in trouble:

“Not if he wants to be speaker, it’s not… I’d just say his job’s not in trouble, if that’s what he wants to do.  I think he — I’m sure he wants to be speaker.  But I don’t think he’s in trouble.”

On his thoughts on Jeb Hensarling:

“I’d have to think about that. Look, you know what I — I really believe in something.  I believe the Congress of the United States has to choose their own leadership.  We have never, ever allow the Chamber to get into the business of whom they choose as leader.  Bad mistake people to do that. What we want to do is get the best people elected that we can, so that whatever comes up to a vote, whatever comes up for a decision, or whoever is voting for the leadership, we have the best people there to get the best possible results.”

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