WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday defended his decision to give money to an anti-incumbent super PAC to help defeat one of his colleagues but refused to discuss whether an anti-Semitic comment may have played a role in the matter.
Cantor landed in hot water this month for giving $25,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability to help sink veteran Rep. Don Manzullo (Ill.) in his GOP primary against freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.). The two ended up in the same district after redistricting.
Cantor said he donated at the request of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who, like Cantor, already signaled support for Kinzinger in the race. But Cantor's move ruffled feathers among House Republicans, who said their party leader should have stayed out of a race between two of his own members.
"I made a commitment to a colleague of mine way back and I felt it was necessary to live up to the word that I gave my colleague," Cantor said during a Tuesday interview with Politico's Mike Allen at a breakfast event. "Some decisions that you make sometimes aren't easy, but I think most importantly, you live up to your commitment and you make sure that your word stays good. Your word doesn't mean some days it's good, some days it's not."
Asked to weigh in on a Politico story about Manzullo reportedly once saying that Cantor, the lone Jewish House Republican, "would not be saved," the House Majority leader demurred.
"I don't want to discuss that," Cantor said. "This has to do with a commitment that I made to a colleague."
He also wouldn't say whether he believed that Manzullo made the comment. Manzullo's office said he didn't.
"Again, I'm not commenting on it," Cantor said. "I think Don Manzullo is an upstanding individual who's served his constituents well."
Allen then pressed Cantor on whether he's felt any anti-Semitism from his House Republican colleagues. "No," he said at first, but then became evasive.
"I don't want to say anything about those remarks. I don't want to talk about anything having to do with this sort of darker side of, sort of, any kind of comments made," Cantor said. "I think that all of us know that in this country, we've not always gotten it right in terms of racial matters, religious matters, whatever ... To sit here and say in America that we've got it all right now, I think that pretty much all of us can say we've still got work to do."
When Allen clarified that he was talking about anti-Semitism within the House Republican conference, not America, Cantor sat in silence for several seconds until Allen finally moved on to a different topic.