House Speaker John Boehner is being asked on TV about his political ally and deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, but TV viewers don’t know the tangled back story, which involves rumors of rivalries and a history of GOP infighting.
“Eric Cantor, hows your relationship with him?” asked Fox host Bill Hemmer to Boehner in his first interview since party leaders struck a spending deal to avert government shutdown Friday night.
“Good! You know there’s a lot of people who want to write a lot of things about Eric and I, and the jostling for power. It’s just nonsense. Eric and I have this wonderful relationship, we understand each other. We walk through all these battles together. And I’m grateful for his leadership,” Boehner said.
On Sunday, Fox anchor Chris Wallace asked Cantor the same thing.
“There has been a lot of speculation in this town about your relationship with Speaker John Boehner. And there is this image that you’re kind of itchily waiting in the wings for him to leave and for you to be able to succeed him,” Wallace said, “Did he cement his position as speaker and his support inside the Republican Caucus by the way he handled this whole CR debate?”
“Yes. And John Boehner and I have had a relationship, we were in the minority, we’re working together very well in the majority …We have a very good working relationship. And we’re going to work together to see that these things happen,” Cantor said.
“So you back John Boehner as speaker of the House?” Wallace asked.
“Absolutely,” said Cantor, laughing.
“One hundred percent?” Wallace asked.
“Absolutely. And I’ve been on this show, Chris, probably a year ago saying that, six months ago saying that. And I’ll say it again now,” Cantor said.
One reason Wallace pressed Cantor is that Washington insiders, especially on K Street, have been buzzing about the tension between the two leaders.
For instance, at the height of the drama over a potential government shutdown, one Republican lobbyist close to Boehner’s camp called The Daily Caller and said the rift was threatening to break into the open under the strain of the high-profile fight between Boehner and the president.