The little-known Tea Party candidate who stunningly defeated one of the most powerful House Republicans Tuesday says that immigration was a “differentiator” in his race against Majority Leader Eric Cantor but that his victory was about broader philosophical differences.
"Amnesty, at the end, was a clear differentiator between myself and Eric Cantor, but it fits into the whole narrative" of his campaign, economics professor and new Virginia congressional nominee Dave Brat told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview.
During his campaign, Brat excoriated Cantor for his support for a DREAM Act-like proposal that would offer some children brought into the United States illegally a path to citizenship. The majority leader’s seismic loss led many to question if even supportive Republicans will abandon any efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system for fear of a similar gut punch at the ballot box.
But Brat said that Cantor’s biggest problem was an aloofness from the voters who first elected him in 2000.
“Eric just has not been present in the district, and he was out of touch in supporting the Chamber [of Commerce] agenda on that one,” he said. “I was door-knocking, I know what’s on the mind of the folks.”
The Randolph-Macon College professor of economics declined to answer repeated questions about whether or not he believes there should be a minimum wage at all, saying he does not have “a well-crafted response on that one.”
But he appeared to argue generally against the notion, saying that “you cannot artificially make up wage rates, they have to be related to productivity.”
First published June 11 2014, 6:43 AM
Carrie Dann is a national political writer for NBCNews.com. She has worked for NBC and NBCNews.com since 2006. Dann writes about politics and Congress. Dann rejoined the web team after 18 months as a campaign reporter for NBC News, covering presidential and vice presidential candidates during the 2012 election. She also covered the 2007-2008 presidential campaign for NBC, including extensive reporting on the Iowa caucuses.
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Prior to her work at NBCNews.com, Dann was a staff reporter at CongressDaily, where she covered lobbying and government reform.
A Virginia native, she now lives in Washington, D.C.