Cantor draws a road map for Republicans

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sought to further rebrand the Republican party on Tuesday, pivoting from budget issues to kitchen table issues like education, health care and immigration in an address to a conservative group.

In a 30-minute speech called “Make Life Work,” Cantor (R-Va.) broadly outlined the goals for his party, which saw losses in the House and Senate in 2012. At several recent gatherings, Republicans have said they must fashion a message that resonates beyond the party’s base and connects their conservative philosophy with people’s everyday lives.

“Over the next two years, the House majority will pursue an agenda based on a shared vision of creating the conditions for health, happiness and prosperity for more Americans and their families. And to restrain Washington from interfering in those pursuits,” Cantor said. “We will advance proposals aimed at producing results in areas like education, health care, innovation and job growth. Our solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family and accountability in government.”

On the education front, Cantor said that a priority would be “to move heaven and earth to fix our education system for the most vulnerable.”

Cantor said that Congress will work on reforming the student aid process so it's more transparent to students and parents.

Republicans have been trying to recalibrate in the wake of their November losses -- they did poorly among women, Latinos, African Americans and young people -- and are seeking to expand beyond their core group of supporters of older white voters.

The speech comes as a bipartisan group in the House is taking up the issue of immigration, which Obama has said is one of his top priorities this year.

Cantor seemed to back a version of the Dream Act, which would give children who were brought here illegally by their parents a pathway to citizenship.

"One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home," Cantor said. "I’m pleased that many of my colleagues in both chambers of Congress on both sides of the aisle have begun work in good faith to address these issues. And I’m pleased these discussions make border security, employment verification and creating a workable guest worker program an immediate priority. It’s the right thing to do for our families, for our security, and for our economy."

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David Nakamura · February 5, 2013