Eric Cantor talks 2016 to packed UVa Hall

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Eric Cantor, January 2015 (photo by Lynn R. Mitchell)

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Eric Cantor still has it.

Garrett Hall was tightly packed Friday as former House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor discussed the upcoming presidential election with students from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

Sitting in an informal armchair on a small stage, Cantor …  spoke about the presidential election and economic growth strategies, while addressing several questions from students.

He still has that capacity to draw a crowd.

Last January I had the opportunity to listen to Congressman Cantor in a similar informal setting as he relaxed in front of a crowd (see Virginia Republicans look to the future), displaying his depth of understanding the complex and difficult issues that face our country.

This time he was discussing 2016.

Cantor, who endorsed Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination, poked fun at Trump a few times during the talk, including his controversial promise to build a wall across the border between Mexico and the U.S. Calling Trump “divisive” for his desire to deport all illegal immigrants, Cantor said that is not the way to garner votes from Hispanic and immigrant voters.

“We are a country of immigrants,” Cantor said, whose own grandparents came to the U.S. following religious persecution in Russia. “We’re an attractive country for immigrants because of the certainty of our law.”

“Most Republicans want to do something,” he added. “Most Republicans also know we can’t deport 12 million people.”

Kasha Nielsen w Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor and Kasha Nielsen (photo by Phillip Stucky)

He even took selfies afterward with members of the audience as well as a Facebook picture with Kasia Nielsen, chairwoman of the College Republican Federation of Virginia, taken by UVa College Republican Phillip Stucky.

Read more from reporter Lauren Berg (see At UVa, former Rep. Cantor talks politics).

Update: Shaun Kenney has more over at Bearing Drift (see Daily Progress: Cantor’s advice to UVa Batten).

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