WASHINGTON – As Rep. Tom Price of Roswell spoke on austerity at the conservative Heritage Foundation this afternoon, the news alert arrived: Eric Cantor will step down as Majority Leader at the end of July after losing his primary last night.
Price is one of the House Republicans who could benefit from the falling dominoes, but he was not revealing much about his thinking.
“What we need to do now is meet as a Republican family and walk through the way forward,” Price said, referring to a 4 p.m. gathering in the bowels of the Capitol.
A reporter jumped in: Would you like to have your name considered?
“It’s important to have that family discussion,” he replied.
Price said he was “as shocked and surprised as anybody” by Cantor’s loss. And he was not prepared to say what impact it will have on policy such as immigration.
“You know, it will be a long time before people actually figure out why what happened happened, and so we’ll see.”
The Heritage event concerned the lessons of austerity actions in different European nations, and Price spoke about the need for America to act now on its long-term debt and the wonderful things the House GOP budget will do about that.
His speech included a rebuke to some all-or-nothing conservatives — a message that could, perhaps, be honed to bridge the gap in a leadership race as he seeks support from all corners of the House GOP spectrum.
“As conservatives, it’s important that we appreciate that practicing smart politics doesn’t mean abandoning principles, sound principles like limited government and individual liberty and fiscal restraint. It just means getting better at implementing those principles than the other side is at destroying them.
“Now some have suggested that incremental changes fail to recognize the apparent severity of the challenges we face. On the contrary, conservative incrementalism seeks to address the present crises and to prevent future ones in a principles, logical and strategic way. It is a sure way to secure real gains.”
UPDATE 2:45 p.m. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland spoke to our Cox Media Group colleague Jamie Dupree about whether he would seek a leadership post. Listen to it here:
“You’ve got an open mind about everything I guess, and we’re talking to some folks. But I mean I’m not officially throwing my hat in the ring, but it’s good to talk and see how people feel, so we’ll see.”