SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — House Republican Leader Eric Cantor campaigned Thursday with 12th District challenger Lee Anderson at a private fundraiser in an Atlanta suburb, saying incumbent John Barrow is out of touch with the district.
Meanwhile, Barrow blamed Cantor for holding up passage of legislation critical to the district’s farmers.
The leader of the House majority came to Georgia because Barrow is considered by most observers as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House, especially after redistricting left him with a district that leans Republican.
“This is an extremely important race for the House of Representatives and the Republicans there, and we’ve got a candidate who is in touch with the people of that district and reflects the common-sense, conservative vein that runs throughout this state,” Cantor said of Anderson. “Lee is a farmer. He’s someone who’s been in that community throughout his career, and he represents a stark contrast, really, to Mr. Barrow.”
Cantor, R-Va., blasted Barrow for supporting President Obama’s stimulus bill and for refusing to join Republicans in their 30 votes to repeal federal health reform.
Barrow hit back in a statement released by his campaign that notes the majority leader controls the schedule of bills coming to the House floor, including one dealing with the district’s largest industry.
“It’s too bad that Lee Anderson is campaigning with the one individual most responsible for preventing Congress from passing a farm bill,” Barrow said. “There is enough bipartisan support for the House to pass the bill, but it has never been allowed to come to the floor for a vote.”
The Senate has passed its version of the farm bill that would extend and revamp support programs for farmers.
Cantor’s visit brought members of the state’s GOP delegation together for the private event held in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes, including Lynn Westmoreland of Sharpsburg, Jack Kingston of Savannah, Tom Graves of Ranger, and Tom Price and Phil Gingrey, both of Atlanta’s north side. All are former legislators like Anderson.
On Thursday, Anderson restated his past reasons for refusing to debate Barrow, saying the congressman first needs to say on TV who he’s voting for in the presidential election and that a debate would only give the incumbent more opportunity to mislead the public.
“Why give him free media? Why give him free time to lie to our people more?” Anderson asked.
Westmoreland added: “Do you really want to get into a debate with a trial lawyer on TV when he’s got a voting record that he’s going to be very much ashamed of and allow him to get in there and do what trial lawyers do, and that’s just circle around and confuse people?”
Barrow has accepted several debate invitations, including one held by the Atlanta Press Club that will be televised across the district and statewide Oct. 21. He made another dig at Anderson for ducking the confrontations.
“We don’t know where Lee stands on a number of issues besides turning Medicare over to the private insurance industry, because he refuses to come out in the open and discuss them in a debate,” Barrow said.
Anderson, though, denied again Thursday that he wanted to weaken Medicare and instead said it was Barrow in supporting Obamacare that cut Medicare.
“He’s the congressman that voted not to repeal Obamacare, and he’s the one that actually cut the Medicare from our senior citizens,” Anderson said. “Lee Anderson will never cut Medicare for the senior citizens.”
Cantor was asked whether he had made any promises to Anderson about committee assignments or junior leadership roles if he succeeds in unseating the last white Democrat in the deep South. He declined any specifics but said he looked forward to drawing on Anderson’s experience as a farmer and former school board member.