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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcripts


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KAINE: You bet, Wolf. BLITZER: All right, let's go to another Virginian right now. From the Republicans side, Congressman Eric Cantor, he's the number two Republican in the House of Representatives. He's got a lot of smiles on his face.

Who is more responsible for these dramatic wins that the Republicans have had in state-wide elections in recent months in Virginia, in New Jersey, now in Massachusetts? Would you say it's the Republican establishment or the tea party movement?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY WHIP: You know, Wolf, I think where the electorate is, is they are extremely frustrated that Washington is not listening. So it involves everybody.

I mean who would have thought even a week ago that we would have seen the type of election victory that Scott Brown had in Massachusetts last night?

I know that we in Virginia several months ago would never have dreamed that Bob McDonnell would win as big as he did that night. And I don't think anybody would have thought New Jersey wasn't even going to be close.

This is a result of the people standing up and telling Washington to cut it out. Stop the arrogance and start listening to us. And I think this is the theme that we're going to see continuing to play out unless this administration and the majority in Congress begin to respond to the people.

BLITZER: Does this mean, you believe, that you can win the House of Representatives, the majority, come November?

CANTOR: It is so extraordinary to even imagine that we are here where we are today. There's a lot of work yet still to be done, but yes, Wolf, I do think that we can take back the majority in the U.S. House in November.


BLITZER: Michael Steele, the chairman of your party, he was doubtful of that only a couple of weeks ago, but you disagree with him.

CANTOR: You know, Wolf, I saw Michael Steele at our inaugural of Bob McDonnell as governor on Saturday, and I told the chairman there, I just disagree with him on that point.


CANTOR: I disagree with Chairman Steele on that point because I believe that the American people at this point want to see a check and balance on the one-party rule in Washington that has not produced the kind of hope and change that was promised a year ago.

BLITZER: So you -- do you have confidence in Michael Steele? CANTOR: Michael Steele is hard at work doing the things that he does as chairman of the RNC. Yes. But I disagree with him on the notion that the -- about the prospects of taking back the House.

I believe that we can take back the majority. We obviously have the wind behind us right now, but the people are looking to us to see what we're about, what our solutions are, how it differs as far as a vision for how we take this country, and in fact, to see whether it is we can provide the type of leadership that the voters decided that Senator-Elect Brown can provide and Governor McDonnell as well as Christie.

BLITZER: All right. Here's Gloria Borger. She has a question for you, Congressman.

BORGER: Hi, Congressman. I have a question about health care, which is if the people didn't like what's going on in Washington -- they see the bickering, they see Republicans opposed to the president all of the time on everything -- does this work both ways?

Are you willing to cut some deal with the president and the American people and say we'll do a scaled back version of health care reform that everybody can buy into and work in a bipartisan way?

CANTOR: Well, first of all, Gloria, I want to say it's not just health care last night. It was health care, but it was also...

BORGER: Right.

CANTOR: ... the spending, it was the cap and trade bill.

BORGER: Right.

CANTOR: It was the stimulus bill. It was all combined the fact that the people feel that Washington is not listening. Now look...

BORGER: Right. So what about health care?

CANTOR: Gloria, I met with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer several months ago and I offered our plan. The House Republicans have a plan. And the plan is still there. But you know what? As late as today we see the Democrats in the House just talking to one another.

They're not interested in reaching out to us. And in fact, Gloria, as recently as a month or so ago, Leader Hoyer said to me it's not worth our time as a majority to even speak to Republicans because you're not interested in a public option or some type of plan that would result in...

BORGER: But what if they were to come to you now because clearly the situation has changed, the political dynamic is different? The public has spoken in Massachusetts. What if they came to you now and said let's get together in front of the American people and do what we can do?

CANTOR: Again, the plan that we have offered to them to accomplish positive health care reform, bringing down costs, is on the table. It's been there. And you know, we keep hearing from the president and others saying that we've got to do something about special interest in Washington.

Well, you know what? The public has demanded that we do something to get rid of the frivolous lawsuits and get the lawyers out of the examining room. That is something that is a no-brainer to most people but yet there is no movement or embracing that whatsoever on the part of the majority.

We've got to realize that people expect us to listen to them and affect the reform in the way that they want, not the way that some ideologically extreme agenda dictates the way that the health care bill has proceeded thus far.

BLITZER: Congressman, we've got to leave it right there. Thanks very much for coming in.

Things have changed dramatically over the past year, but you know, and you're an experienced politician, things can change very rapidly over the next year. So you've got to watch it and be very, very careful. I assume you agree with me on that.

CANTOR: There is no question. It is all about listening to the people and they have spoken up now and we better meet the expectations that the people have for leadership at the federal government and to start to insist that this federal government worked for the people again and not the other way around.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman Eric Cantor is the number two congressman in the House of Representatives.

You heard him say here in THE SITUATION ROOM, he thinks they can be the majority come November. We'll see what happens over the course of this election year.

Thanks very much.


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