Cantor to Obama: Don't 'light a fuse' under GOP

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Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told CNBC on Wednesday that unilateral action by President Barack Obama on immigration and other issues would "light a fuse" among Republicans now that they control both houses of Congress.

"Last night was a repudiation of what's going on right now," Cantor said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" in his first television interview since he gave up his seat in Congress after a stunning primary election loss.

He said the next six weeks will set the tone for 2015 and whether compromise between the parties can prevail. He called on Vice President Joe Biden to help both parties come together, citing the former senator's vast experience over decades on Capitol Hill.

"If [Obama] goes ahead and unilaterally signs an executive order to do some of the things he's talking about [on immigration], my sense is that will light a fuse. And we don't want to light a fuse," Cantor warned. "I don't think the American people do right now. They want to see people work together."

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He also reminded his GOP colleagues to "manage expectations" for how much they can actually accomplish because Obama is still in office.

Cantor lost his Republican primary race in Virginia in June and later left Congress. Tea party-affiliated economics professor David Brat—who ousted the seven-term Cantor—beat his Democratic opponent in Tuesday's midterm election to keep the seat for Republicans.

Cantor's veiled warning to tea party

In his CNBC interview, Cantor encouraged Republicans to work with Democrats and the president before the end of the year to deal with the continuing spending resolution that's keeping the government running. It set to expire in December.

He also issued a veiled warning to tea party members. "If, on the other hand, you see some folks who say, 'Wait a minute. We want to make sure we kick the can so we can deal only with Republicans' ... that gets complicated."

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Cantor did not stop there, stressing the tea party should not hold the GOP leadership hostage. "There's often times a small minority that can get in the way and bring out those kind of things that we saw prior, whether it was a fiscal cliff or whether it was a shutdown or the near approach to a debt default."

"On the Republican side ... the leadership is firmly committed to addressing the spending question to get the kinds of things undone off the table," he added.

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Republicans need to 'broaden our appeal'

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential election, Cantor said Republicans need to soften their stance on social issues. "The mission for conservatives and the Republican Party is to make sure we broaden our appeal," he continued. "You have to be tolerant of a diversity of views on both sides."

Cantor, who went head to head with Obama on many issues over the years, said he heard from Democrats—but not from the president—after his primary defeat.

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On his setback in June, Cantor said "you never know why things happen" but when one door closes another one opens. Cantor has landed on Wall Street, where he's vice chairman and managing director at boutique investment banking firm Moelis & Co.