White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Cantor’s fall at the hands of a little-known, little-funded opponent was the Virginia Republican's fault.
“This outcome does provide some evidence to indicate that the strategy of opposing nearly everything and supporting hardly anything is not just a bad governing strategy, it is not a very good political strategy either,” Earnest said.
Cantor has been a persistent and vocal Obama critic, and is viewed by some in the White House as a politician whose personal political ambitions got in the way of compromise.
Cantor was hammered by opponent David Brat for his support for some aspects of immigration reform, leading some to declare that the outcome Tuesday would scare the few remaining GOP backers and officially kill the current push to overhaul the system. Earnest contested that analysis.
“Majority Leader Cantor campaigned very aggressively against common-sense, bipartisan, immigration reform, but yet there are some who suggest that his election was a key to getting immigration reform done,” Earnest said. “It is the view of the White House that there is support all across the country for common sense bipartisan immigration reform.”
Earnest pointed to the results of another primary — Sen. Lindsey Graham’s successful race for renomination in South Carolina. “You would be hard pressed to name a constituency more conservative than those who cast ballots (in) South Carolina.” But Graham beat conservative challengers because he made a “persuasive case why comprehensive immigration reform was the right thing for the country,” Earnest said.