CBS’s Cordes: ‘Ambitious’ Eric Cantor ‘Has Given His Opponents Plenty of Ammunition’

 On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes filed a report on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a "lightning rod" for sharp criticism from Democrats because of his role in budget negotiations with President Obama. After beginning the report with a clip of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer asserting that Cantor "has yet to make a constructive contribution," and after recounting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had called the Republican leader "childish," Cordes seemed to legitimize the insults as she asserted that Cantor had provided "plenty of ammunition":

The ambitious six-term Congressman has given his opponents plenty of ammunition. He blew up the original debt negotiations led by Vice President Biden when talk turned to tax increases, then pulled Speaker Boehner back from a grand bargain with the President because taxes were part of the deal.

Cordes informed viewers of the Republican leader’s popularity with Tea Party activists and also showed a clip of House Speaker John Boehner defending him. As she concluded the report, without noting that federal budget deficits have been substantially greater under President Obama than under President Bush, the CBS correspondent undermined Cantor’s claim that his willingness to allow an increase in the debt limit constitutes compromise on his part. Cordes:

We asked Cantor where he was willing to compromise, and he said the very fact that he's willing to raise the debt limit is a compromise. But he's voted to raise it four times in the past, Scott, when President George W. Bush was in office.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Thursday, July 14, CBS Evening News :

SCOTT PELLEY: The House Majority Leader, Republican Eric Cantor, whom Chip just mentioned, has been a Congressman from Virginia since 2001. He's a favorite of Tea Party activists. Nancy Cordes tells us that now that Cantor is at the center of the budget crisis, he's become a lightning rod.

NANCY CORDES: In Washington, where the blame game is a blood sport, Democrats have found their fall guy.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Leader Cantor has yet to make a constructive contribution to these discussions.

CORDES: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Cantor "childish."

HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown that he shouldn't even be at the table.

CORDES: The ambitious six-term Congressman has given his opponents plenty of ammunition.

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We're not going there.

CORDES: He blew up the original debt negotiations led by Vice President Biden when talk turned to tax increases, then pulled Speaker Boehner back from a grand bargain with the President because taxes were part of the deal.

CANTOR: I cannot fathom how anybody, how anyone thinks right now is a good time to raise taxes.

CORDES: His hard-line approach has endeared him to Tea Party members who question Boehner's commitment to their cause: no new taxes. Do you feel like you're being made into a scapegoat here by the Democrats?

CANTOR: You know, this is not a game. This is serious stuff. We've got a job to do, and that is to ensure that we don't default on our debt.

CORDES: Cantor, who is 48, fashions himself a "young gun" of the Republican Party with a book and video to match.

CLIP OF NARRATOR: They are the young guns.

CORDES: Despite persistent rumors that Cantor is gunning for his job, Boehner defended his embattled lieutenant today.

JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE SPEAKER: Any suggestion that the role that Eric has played in these meetings has been anything less than helpful is just wrong.

CORDES: We asked Cantor where he was willing to compromise, and he said the very fact that he's willing to raise the debt limit is a compromise. But he's voted to raise it four times in the past, Scott, when President George W. Bush was in office.