Cramer: Cantor's resignation is a market wildcard

(Click for video linked to a searchable transcript of this Mad Money segment)

It's always the unexpected that sends Wall Street for a loop. And something unexpected has happened.

Congressman Eric Cantor said he will step down from his position as House majority leader on July 31, after losing his GOP primary to tea party candidate Dave Brat.

It just wasn't expected; Cantorwas heavily favored in his district. And since he was first elected to Congress in 2000, he's exercised considerable influence in the nation's capital.

Jim Cramer on Mad Money.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Jim Cramer on Mad Money.

Now, Jim Cramer says Wall Street is immediately and suddenly confronted with a string of unknowns. From the leadership scramble expected among the GOP to speculation about the political muscle of the tea party, there's a wildcard in the market, and it involves Washington.

"The Street knows that every gut-wrenching, bone-crushing selloff of more than 5 percent has been caused by Washington, either because the government did something terrible or because people were worried that it might do something horrible."

That's squarely back in play, now.

Going forward, Cramer fully expects to hear increased chatter about next year's debt ceiling battle. "It's been a real cause célèbre of the tea party." Also, there have already been reports suggesting immigration reform is dead because Cantor embraced some form of resolution.

All told, there's a new catalyst in play that could spook the Street and take down stocks. "And once Washington gets on the front page of the business papers it doesn't come off easily."

Although Cramer doesn't think developments will trigger a major correction, considering the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average are within a stone's throw of all-time highs, Cramer thinks it's time to step back.

"Take a breather," Cramer said. Given these developments, "I wouldn't be aggressive."

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However, don't run for the hills, either. Cramer simply thinks Washington is going to give you an opportunity to buy your favorite stocks at lower prices.

And don't forget,as Cramer said on "Mad Money" earlier in the week, "The vast majority of declines since 2009 have been buying opportunities. When you're dealing with the stocks of high quality companies that simply aren't very expensive, then any weakness is generally a buying opportunity. But right this minute, I wouldn't be aggressive."

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