House Republicans are really sad to see House Majority Leader Eric Cantor go.
"He's a beloved person," said one. "My heart is broken," said another. Speaker John Boehner apparently even got choked up as he delivered a tribute to Cantor during a special meeting Wednesday with the Republican caucus, before Cantor announced to the public that he will step down as majority leader following his Tuesday primary loss.
Here's how Boehner bid his colleague farewell from leadership, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks:
This is a speech I never expected to give. I want to start by offering a heartfelt thanks to Eric and his staff for their service to our conference, our institution and our country.
We've been through a lot together. When I was elected majority leader eight and a half years ago, Eric was there, as the chief deputy whip. He's always been there. There's no one who works harder, or puts more thought, into advancing our principles and the solutions we want to enact for the American people.
Winston Churchill once famously said: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." As one who suffered a tough defeat myself in 1998, I can tell you there's plenty of wisdom in that statement.
Eric, we salute you, and we thank you, and your amazing staff as well. We're losing a leader, but you'll never stop being our colleague and our friend.
This is the time for unity; the time for focus—focus on the thing we all know to be true: the failure of Barack Obama's policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future.
For other House Republicans, however, this is the time to start hustling: The race for the next majority leader has already begun.