Their prickly relationship has grabbed headlines in recent months. Now, President Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., are set to give separate, rival speeches on the economy on Friday in events on Cantor’s home turf.
For now, at least, Cantor is downplaying any pre-speech tension. In fact, he told reporters during a meeting on Wednesday that Americans are “sick of the rancor” among Washington politicians.
“He and I both will be in Richmond,” Cantor said during the meeting, “and both of us will be speaking about jobs and how to get this economy back on track.”
“I welcome the president to come to Richmond,” he said.
The White House on Wednesday said Obama will travel to Virginia on Friday to talk about jobs and the economy at the University of Richmond. The speech will be a follow-up to his Thursday address to a joint session of Congress.
Cantor told reporters he, too, will be giving a speech in Richmond, that same day on the same topics. Aides say details such as location of Cantor’s address are being worked out.
In one backhanded remark, Cantor did say that he appreciated what he called the president’s “renewed focus on jobs.” Even, he said, if “the truth of the matter is we have very different opinions on how to grow this economy and produced some sustainable job growth.”
But, Cantor added, “Plain and simple, my point is good people can disagree. And that doesn’t mean anybody is putting politics above country. And I believe that all of us, both sides, are trying to do what’s best for the country.”
“The focus now is jobs. I think all of us—and certainly my constituents are no different than people around the Commonwealth or the country —we are in desperate need to see an economy that grows again,” said Cantor.