Washington (CNN) – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Tuesday attempted to walk back comments he made last week when he referred to those participating in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as "the growing mobs."
In his weekly session with reporters on Capitol Hill, Cantor said he understands why people are out on the streets protesting.
"People are upset and they're justifiably frustrated. They're out of work. The economy is not moving," Cantor said. "Their sense of security for the future is not clear at all. People are afraid and I get it."
But while refraining from using the term "mob" Cantor repeated his criticism of political leaders, indirectly aimed at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, who he maintained were using the protestors to encourage a divide between people and the financial sector.
"I don't believe that our role is to inflame a division between different parts and sectors of American society," Cantor said.
The number two House GOP leader argued that policies enacted in Washington are "making matters worse" and he cited the stimulus package and the financial regulatory reform law.
When asked about Cantor's original description of the protestors on Tuesday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he "I certainly don't think they're a mob."
Hoyer, like Cantor, said the demonstrations were a reflection of the "angst" on the part of Americans who are fearful about the economy.
The Maryland Democrat argued that the town hall meetings in the summer of 2009 around the health care debate, many attended by tea party protestors, were "much more confrontational in many respects" than the recent demonstrations around the country.
But Cantor said the tea party movement that was "very different" than the Occupy Wall Street protests in that it was aimed at the government, not a particular private sector.
"The tea party were individuals that were attempting to address their grievances, seeking redress of their grievances from the government that they elected. Different, from what I see, from the protestors that I see on Wall Street and elsewhere, who again who are pitting themselves against others outside government in America," Cantor said.