On slow days, in the press gallery above the House chamber, reporters chat about rivalries — Redskins versus Eagles, Notre Dame versus Southern Cal, Boehner versus Cantor. The latter, though, may be a bit exaggerated. Cantor is ambitious, to be sure, but the tales of his closed-door clashes with the speaker are more the whispers of gossipy scribes than reported stories. In fact, from what I heard today, the relationship between the pair may be better than most imagine. During this afternoon’s conference meeting, Cantor’s friendly gesture made Boehner emotional — and drew a standing ovation from House Republicans.
Cantor, sources say, presented Boehner with a framed copy of two TIME magazine covers — one from late 2010, right after he became speaker, and another from 1929 featuring Nicholas Longworth, the previous Buckeye State speaker. In presenting the gift, Cantor praised Boehner for his work in brokering the debt-limit deal. “I know it has been a struggle,” he said. “As you said on last night’s conference call, the deal is not perfect. But for all of us who have been here before, a deal like this has never happened before.”
“We have been through a lot,” Cantor reportedly said. “The leadership team has had its differences. You made us focus on the fact that we are all on one team dedicated to the cause we came here to accomplish — to reset the size of government, to limit government.”
To House colleagues looking on, Cantor’s gift was about more than magazine spreads — it was about reminding everyone, even us reporters, that Boehner and Cantor are a team. They may not click on the little things, but on the big picture (and small frames), they are allies.