In October, Cantor, now House majority leader, was attending an electoral “meet and greet” at a small eatery in the tiny town of Louisa within his 7th District. Local Democrat John Taylor and three others, one of whom carried a sign boosting Cantor’s opponent, wanted to “ask Cantor some questions.” Taylor ended up being forcibly removed from the coffee shop and pinned to the ground by police.
On Wednesday, Cantor was in Midlothian in suburban Richmond at a hotel conference center holding a meeting of his “advisory council.” The news media was banned from the room as 200 protestors rallied outside complaining of Cantor’s big business ties and his failure to create jobs.
To be sure, the rally was put together by the liberal group Virginia Organizing, which has union ties, to draw attention to the Main Street Republican turned Tea Party darling. Cantor aides told local newspapers that anyone can sign up to take part in the “advisory council,” which meets about three times a year.
True, Cantor can ask people to sign in to attend a semi-private meeting if it is not a public rally. As the Gabrielle Giffords case in Arizona has shown, security must be a top concern.
But these strong-arm methods do raise questions about Cantor’s style. After all, the Old Dominion has 10 other congressmen. One never hears about such problems when they meet with constituents in their districts, which, of course, is exactly what they should be doing.
Cantor has achieved a remarkably high profile this past year after being on Capitol Hill for nearly a decade. With visibility has come an unseemly in-your-face attitude. Cantor displayed it nationally as he tried to lead budget hawk and Tea Party opposition to any spending additions during the disastrous recent talks on raising the debt ceiling. Cantor’s style helped lead to the intransigence that helped prompt credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to lower America’s debt rating.
The Henrico County Republican still seems unbeatable. But if these incidents keep popping up, even the more conservative voters might start thinking twice about supporting him. And if Cantor is being set up by political opponents, he is sure doing a poor job of managing it.