May 4th, 2009
11:55 AM ET
9 years ago

Cantor says new GOP group won't avoid social issues

(CNN) – A driving force behind the new effort to renew the GOP's image denied Monday that the group is looking to avoid addressing social issues that excite the conservative base but can be off-putting for moderate and independent voters.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia was joined at the group's town hall style kick off event Saturday by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"During your meeting over the weekend, you didn't talk at all about abortion, gay marriage or immigration," American Morning's John Roberts said to Cantor Monday. "Those are three big Republican social issues. . . . Why were those issues left off the table?"

"The National Council for a New America is meant to be a wide-open policy debate," the Virginia Republican responded. "There is no exclusion about what we'll talk about, who can be involved.

"...The traditional family values are a part of everything we do. The value system that we hold raising our children, educating our children, delivering health care –these issues permeate everything, so there is absolutely no intention to veer away from discussion of any of that."

Less than a week after Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter defected from the GOP to help save his 2010 re-election prospects, Cantor conceded that his party is struggling in parts of the country.

"In the Northeast, in New England, we've certainly taken our licks," Cantor told Roberts. "There's no question that the Republican Party needs to be more inclusive at this point. We shouldn't be an exclusive small bunch satisfied with the minority."

The GOP's rebranding effort will focus on rallying the public around "the principles that we know have made this country great – liberty, opportunity, and the devotion to the individual and free markets."

Listen: CNN Radio on the new push to revitalize the Republican Party

Filed under: American Morning • Eric Cantor • GOP
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Shane

    Having a BUSH (Jebbie) perched next to you doesn't exactly give the voters a sense of credability...we're sick of Bushes!

    May 4, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Minnesotan

    Oh, this is going to be fun! The Republican party will devour itself if they actually want to incorporate any social ideas. The ultra-right and the Neo-Cons will have nothing to do with 21st century ideas, progress or helping middle class Americans. They'd rather keep their party 'pure' than in power by actually working FOR Americans.

    May 4, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. william,oregon

    I am looking forward to this. I wonder how the GOP will rebrand equal rights for all, women, minorities and gays? Not interfering with a womens right to choose by old white men. Wanting seperation of churches and state. Wanting to be part of America instead of corporate America. Returning to the center insted if right wing extremism. Not trying to make every other country like us. Peace not wars. If they will not address this they fail.

    May 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Haley

    It's can't fix stupid.

    May 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Flex

    Does the Republican party believe that their absolutist "traditional family values" are discriminatory, and show their children poisonous, negative, and dis-respectful behavior towards people that they don't like?

    They fail to realize that marriage equality proponents celebrate every family, traditional, and non-traditional. Their one-sided fantasy of mandated nuclear families is a mask for their religious fascism. It is insulting, and enraging, because we pay our taxes, and jump through the same hoops as everyone else, but are forced to pay higher taxes, because of ignorant religious laws that are imposed onto us.

    If they believe that they can vote on our right to get married, we should be able to vote on religious zealots right to get married. But, we're not interested in joining them in their brand of obsessive hate.

    May 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I'm not a republican, but I'm ashamed to have Cantor representing Virginia.

    "The traditional family values are a part of everything we do. The value system that we hold raising our children, educating our children, delivering health care –these issues permeate everything, so there is absolutely no intention to veer away from discussion of any of that."

    If the GOP is concerned about healthcare, why are they holding up the President's healthcare agenda? The republicans are all talk and no action.

    May 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. arithmetic is liberal

    Let's do some math.

    I don't believe any of the garbage that says we're a center-right or center-left country. America by definition is CENTER. There's a 50-50 split with a very diffuse middle.

    20% of the country supports the Republican Party right now. Republicans can continue to hang on to that ~20% and watch that number deflate ever so slowly as the young join the Libertarians and the old pass away. Republicans are losing out on about 30% of their market share right now.

    21% and shrinking to keep the outmoded and disproven social issues
    30% with potential for growth if they abandon the social issues and get back to what Republicans do best – limiting the size of government.

    Republicans don't have to embrace social progress, they just have to stop embracing social regression. The Solid South (the remaining 20%) will kick and scream, there may be a few groups of armed individuals that move into the forest to "secede", but they will GET OVER IT eventuall and begrudgingly, finally, come out into the daylight of a diverse world.

    May 4, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Cdog

    "The value system that we hold raising our children, educating our children, delivering health care..."

    What? The GOP fights against maternity leave at state, federal, and private levels, it continually cuts funding for education (while maintaining ungodly military spending), and has advocated the failing health care system we currently have since its birth.

    Blatant misinformation.

    May 4, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Chris in NC

    All this re-branding talk is's the core image that is so alienating to people. The party that was once perceived as pro-business, and strong on national defense and fiscal responsibility has been hijacked by ignorance and fear...uber-patriots and religious zealots with narrow, imperialist agendas and questionable business ethics. Until the party finds a way to cooperate with the more moderate or diplomatic elements of the country, all the re-branding in the world won't work. Extremism – on the left OR right – simply doesn't appeal to the average American...

    May 4, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. M

    Hey Cantor! I hope you ain't to proud to beg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 4, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Dan

    What a ridiculous pile of doublespeak. They know they can't sustain their opposition to things like gay marriage and win, but they don't want to clue their radical right-wing base into that until they absolutely have to. The GOP has been living off a con, fooling the religious right into thinking they can actually win the culture war, and now the con is being revealed.

    May 4, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Allison

    Old Jeb Bush, just what the Republican Party needs! Bring on Larry Craig, he'll "tap" to their tune!

    May 4, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Fla.

    How many articles is CNN going to run for Republican so-called rebranding?

    Is CanTor really trying to purport the same ole "family values" nonsense that has been incredibly hypocritical for the GOP? Many Americans are tired of their social politics of division and "no" new ideas.

    May 4, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Ken

    Memo to Cantor and his fellow Republicans:

    Just keep on doing what you do so well. (not!!!!)

    May 4, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. Cdog

    @John W. Olver

    Hear, hear!

    May 4, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Shadysider

    Wrong side of social issues – Strike 1
    Wrong side of environmental issues – Strike 2
    Wrong side on foreign policy – Strike 2 and 1/2
    No idea for economy and opposing the idea that may work – Strike 3

    The GOP has allowed nationalistic, religious zealots to dictate their policies, and the American people have awakened to their demonizing and fear-monger tactics. Until they address these issues they will continue to fail. Their talking points have no real value in real life. They are like simple theories that fail in the real world.

    May 4, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Becky

    Republican Party doesn't really have a future if they don't embrace Separation of Church & State, and I'm a Christian. Mixing religion with politics creates too many radicals. Even in his response, he's tip-toeing around the issue and emphasizing "traditional family values". What, the family values of the 1950's?

    Which party is going to take the Republican's place if they don't evolve to what America needs in this day and age?

    May 4, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Larry

    There will never be a NEW GOP ...

    Never Happen ...

    New shade of Gray ,,, maybe

    But all that are current, shall always be ... The Old GOP

    The Party Of No ...

    May 4, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Cincinnati girl

    I just don't understand how the GOP can claim they want to be a small government party, yet continue to yield power to those followers who want to limit my ability to live my life as I see fit.

    I am neither a Dem or a Repub, I'm actually a proud Independent. But if the Repubs really want to reshape their party, they have to go back to basics. For them, its redefining conservatism. They have to create a 21st century definition of conservatism and let that be the foundation of the new and improved party.

    Newsflash, it ain't gonna happen if they allow the deliverers of that message to be the same folks who represent the old guard or by swagger jacking Obama. If anything, they need to use young people like Meghan Mccain to encourage more young Repubs to share their voice and participate in the shaping of the new party.

    May 4, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. gl, Pittsburgh

    crack down on overseas tax havens – See how this play out with the Repubicans/ The party of the CEOS!

    May 4, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Lynn

    Dave C. : That is because the interviewer, John King, never asks Republicans follow up questions!!

    May 4, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Dems. Love Welfare

    The GOP rebranding itself easy; nationlize the banks, car companies and be Big Brother and the Libs.will love you............

    May 4, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. Kelby In Houston, TX

    So the party that is known for its exclusionary tactics regarding social issues is now open for conversation? 😉 Huh?
    Suddenly, it's okay to have gay people in your party? But, not okay to have equal rights, huh?

    May 4, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. CitizenJane

    How many so called leaders of the GOP are there with their idiotic and insignificant new ideals? I find myself running in circles trying to keep up with their pandering and so far I have yet to hear anything of real substance: be it solutions to the crisis this country faces or answers on what caused the crisis. Until the GOP can discuss the economic crisis we face with coherence and with a willingness to work together, rebranding the same garbage won't make it stink any less.

    May 4, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Texas Liberal

    lol I hope the GOP goes the way of the Whigs! Fortunately the party is split into two factions: the conservatives and the libertarians. both dying ideologies...

    Good Riddance GOP!!!

    May 4, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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