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Interview with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

Aired August 11, 2012 - 10:14   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is joining us on the phone.

Mr. Leader, thanks very much for joining us.

You know Paul Ryan well. You're one of three young guns, as you guys like to call yourselves, together with Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor. What do you think of that Democratic -- the criticism already coming in from the Obama campaign?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER (via telephone): Well, you know, Wolf, it's nothing but smear tactics once again, because President Obama doesn't want to talk about his economic record. I mean, his policies have failed.

And what I know in Paul Ryan is he is an individual that came to Washington for a cause. And it was really a cause to try and get this country back on track. From the days he and I used to sit on the Ways and Means Committee together, we would sit there for hours and talk about his plans for the future and how it is that he thought that we ought to head, in terms of tax reform, in terms of trying to get the debt under control in this country.

And he's put ideas up. He's a real leader and a real leader for the future. And I couldn't be more excited with Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan for vice president.

BLITZER: Some of the criticism -- other criticism coming in from Democrats and others is he may not be ready to be President of the United States. He really doesn't have a whole lot of foreign policy, national security experience, for example.

What do you say about that?

CANTOR: Well, I find that kind of ironic, given the president's resume prior to his nomination for his party. He had much less experience than Paul Ryan has.

And I know Paul. He has been a thorough, diligent worker. No one knows the budget better than Paul and the functions under that budget, which means the funding of our military, the way that we can affect missions through funding.

And Paul also has a firm commitment and belief in a stronger America. I have traveled with Paul to the Middle East. And I know that he realizes that Iran is the biggest threat to our security and that of our ally, Israel. And there's no question he is an unabashed promoter of a strong national security policy.

BLITZER: So you're not concerned that in that vice presidential debate in October when he faces Vice President Joe Biden, whose expertise is on national security, on foreign policy is well known, that he'll be able to stand up and go toe to toe with Joe Biden?

CANTOR: I think Paul will do just fine. No one I know, more articulate and understands the issues, an on foreign policy issues, has a real appreciation for the threat that our country and our allies are facing, especially in the Middle East.

BLITZER: What about the argument that he -- you're going to hear it, you're already hearing it from Democrats -- that he wants to end Medicare as we know it?

CANTOR: You know, this is their tired old tactics of attack in terms of Medicare.

We have a plan in place, and Paul was the architect of the plan to try and save Medicare so that it can be there for future generations and to make sure we do have a safety net in place for those who need it. And if you take a look at the plan, Wolf, you know good and well that no one, and Paul in particular, is calling for ending Medicare.

What we're trying to do is say we need to save it, we need to shore it up; not do what the president has done, which is failed to offer any solution for a plan that even its trustees have predicted will collapse in a matter of a decade.

BLITZER: The House majority leader, Eric Cantor -- not only the majority leader, but a very good friend of the Republican vice presidential candidate right now, Paul Ryan.

Eric Cantor, thanks very much for joining us.