Blunt Steps Aside as No. 2 House GOP Leader--Cantor Looks to Step In

November 6, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) - Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, the No. 2 Republican in the House, announced Thursday that he is stepping aside after
Democrats added to their numbers in Congress and captured the White

Blunt said he had long ago decided that if Republicans did not reclaim the majority in Tuesday's elections, he would step down from the difficult job of shepherding votes.

Blunt was elevated into leadership by former whip and majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and was schooled in the hardball tactics employed when DeLay was a driving force in running the House.

Blunt's move avoids a difficult intra-party battle with protege Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican who's already campaigning for the job of Republican whip.

Blunt says it's time for a new generation of Republicans to assume leadership roles. Cantor is 45.

Blunt also said he was impressed with the campaign of Barack
Obama and that it would be a mistake for Republicans to assume that
Democrats would overreach now that they will control both the White House and Congress for the first time in 16 years.

Meanwhile, conservative Indiana Rep. Mike Pence has been recruited by GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio to serve as chairman of the Republican conference, the No. 3 leadership post vacated by Florida Rep. Adam Putnam on election night.

Boehner will remain as GOP leader despite the disappointing results on Election Day. He is also expected on Thursday to endorse Texas Rep. Pete Sessions to take over the GOP's House campaign operation.

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