Tuesday, October 05, 2010

4,600 turn out for Va. Rep. Eric Cantor's 2010 Republican Round-Up

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

"Thirty-one days until this country gets back on track! We've got work to do!" called out Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) from the stage as a huge roar could be heard from the crowd of 4,600 at Richmond's Innsbrook Pavilion on Saturday.

For the sixth year in a row, 47-year-old Cantor, a rising star in the GOP and Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2008, has hosted the family-friendly Republican Round-Up that continues to grow in popularity, offering a fall festival atmosphere with pumpkins and hay bales, balloons, entertainment for the little ones, live music, informational tents for local and statewide candidates, BBQ dinner, and the highlight of the day consisting of speeches from the candidates.

In 2009, the event featured gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who both went on to win in the historic November election.

This year, with all Virginia congressional seats open, the lone speaker was Eric Cantor while other congressional candidates were out stumping in their own districts. That didn't stop the crowd from showing enthusiasm for their Congressman, enjoying the beautiful weather, and displaying their patriotic pride when they stood and sang as the Royal Blue band played Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."

By the time Congressman Cantor stepped on stage, the crowd gave him a standing ovation as they cheered and whistled and applauded for the popular home town guy who is in line to become Majority Leader if Republicans gain back the House in November.

Well-liked by his constituents as well as the Republican grassroots, Cantor's event turns out thousands with the help of 100 volunteers who make sure things run smoothly. For someone who has always been very accessible to his supporters, this Congressman's payoff has been the sheer number of people who travel from throughout the 7th Congressional District, which runs from Richmond to Page County in the Shenandoah Valley, to attend what some may consider to be a Republican revival to rally the troops leading up to election day.

Greeting the crowd with that reminder of the number “31” -- the number of days left until the all-important November election -- Rep. Cantor rallied the thousands of listeners as he talked about the upcoming nationwide elections and the need to take back Congress. He admitted that the American people fired Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because the GOP was not doing its job, something he also talked about with John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. In that interview, he summed up what he said on the stage Saturday afternoon:
"Look, we know we screwed up when we were in the majority. We fell in love with power. We spent way too much money—especially on earmarks. There was too much corruption when we ran this place. We were guilty. And that's why we lost."
The article went on to say if Republicans win and Cantor becomes the Majority Leader, he could be Barack Obama's worst nightmare.

That may already be coming to pass as Cantor and fellow representatives work to regain control of the House, recruiting young conservatives known as the Young Guns, the under-45 future of the GOP.  He talked about the new book, "Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders," written by himself and fellow Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

The Young Guns, those 80 individuals running for office across the country, he said, were going to DC not to bring pork barrel spending back home but to turn back to the America we knew. He said it was "so our kids can live the dream that we have lived in America so we can continue to be a beacon to the world. That's what we're about as Republicans ... and that's what this election is about!" The crowd liked what they heard and cheered his words.

This is a leader who has stayed close to his roots. His grandparents emigrated to Richmond  from Eastern Europe and Russia, raising their two sons in freedom and sending them to Virginia colleges with dreams of a better future. Their grandson has taken that dream a step further.

Eric Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in Congress, something that has been widely reported. He has been loyal to his mentors, those who opened doors for him along the way. While working as Congressman Tom Bliley's driver, he did not seek the seat until his boss decided to retire from public life. Cantor won the election and, after only one term in the House, he was tapped by Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) to serve as deputy minority whip in 2003. When he was urged by his peers to run for the minority whip position in 2006, he refused to challenge Blunt. However, when Blunt stepped down in 2008, Cantor succeeded him as minority whip.

The Republican Round-Up offers an opportunity for this rising star to keep one foot on the ground, staying in touch with his supporters while looking to the future and working to put the GOP back on track to be the majority in Congress.

Saturday, as the sun dipped in the late afternoon sky, Cantor looked out over the crowd that had been stirred by his words and concluded, "In Virginia we will turn out all eleven districts, and we will put out yard signs and put bumper stickers on our vehicles. Thirty-one more days! Thank you very, very much!"

The audience got to its feet, applauding and cheering in support for this member of the new generation of the GOP.

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