House Minority Whip Eric Cantor has asked the ethics committee to greenlight a national book tour this August for a new GOP manifesto heâ€™s co-authoring with two younger members of Congress, according to sources familiar with the situation.
This is classic Cantor: a hyperambitious move to publish and push ideas he thinks will help rebrand the GOP, on his terms â€” and not necessarily those of his boss, Minority Leader John Boehner.
If this were an isolated incident, it would pass without a peep. But itâ€™s not: Cantor is earning a reputation for pushing his ideas so hard and so often that some GOP colleagues are questioning his motives. Is he guided by a burning desire to help the party â€” or to boost himself?
â€œBoehner is running 1994 all over again,â€ a senior Republican lawmaker said, meaning Boehner wants to rely on a wave of voter anger with Democrats to ride into the majority. â€œCantor and [California Rep. Kevin McCarthy] see it totally differently.â€ McCarthy serves as Cantorâ€™s top lieutenant in the whip organization and is one of the co-authors, along with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), of Cantorâ€™s new book, â€œYoung Guns.â€
Those close to Cantor donâ€™t deny his ambitions â€” but even they are uncertain of his next move. If Republicans take control of the House in November, the 47-year-old Cantor would become the youngest majority leader in more than 60 years. That would put him next in line to become speaker if and when Boehner leaves.
The choice is tougher if the GOP falls short. If it does, sources close to Cantor say he would have to decide very quickly whether to stay in the House â€” and hope for a Republican victory in 2012 â€” or turn his attention to running for the Senate or for governor. At this point, those sources donâ€™t expect Cantor to both hold a top leadership job and prepare for a different office.
Running for higher offices would be a difficult call. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is seen as the GOP front-runner for governor, and other Virginia Republicans, including former Sen. George Allen, have their eye on the Senate race, too.
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