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Far-left policies from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and some Democratic presidential candidates are 'dangerous,' warns ex-House GOP leader Eric Cantor

Key Points
  • "I worry as an American about the direction of one of our two major parties going toward socialist," says GOP former congressman Eric Cantor.
  • Ironically, Cantor saw his re-election hopes dashed in 2014 because he didn't move far enough to the right.
  • There is one potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who Cantor has good things to say about: Joe Biden.
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Eric Cantor: I worry about the Democratic party's drift toward socialism

The far-left policy proposals from freshman firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and some of the candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination are wrong for America, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told CNBC on Friday.

"I worry as an American about the direction of one of our two major parties going toward socialist," said Cantor, a Republican who was a congressman from Virginia from 2001 to 2015.

New York's Ocasio-Cortez — a self-described democratic socialist, often referred to by her initials AOC — has become a leading voice in the liberal movement that shook up Congress.

In excoriating AOC's platform, which includes the proposed Green New Deal and a push get the rich to pay more taxes, Cantor quipped, "I've heard a new acronym, a new meaning for that acronym, 'absolutely out of control,' if you think about what she's putting out there."

While criticizing the Democratic Party for moving too far left, Cantor, ironically, saw his re-election hopes dashed more than four years ago because he didn't move far enough to the right. He left Congress after losing the 2014 Republican primary to David Brat, a tea party-affiliated economics professor. In turn, Brat, an ally of President Donald Trump, lost his bid for a third, two-year term in the 2018 November midterm election, which flipped the House majority from the GOP to the Democrats.

Cantor also levied criticism at some of the Democrats running for president against Trump, singling out Sen. Elizabeth Warren's push to nationalize corporate governance and Sen. Bernie Sanders' proposal aimed at discouraging companies from buying back their stocks.

Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman who announced his 2020 run on Thursday, will find out how hard it is to get broad Democratic support in a crowded field, said Cantor, now vice chairman and managing director at investment bank Moelis & Co.

O'Rourke had "unanimity in the Democratic base when he ran against Cruz because it was somebody Democrats reviled holistically," Cantor contended, referring to how O'Rourke nearly unseated Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the midterms, two years after the senator ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination.

There's one potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who Cantor has good things to say about: Joe Biden. While the former Obama vice president is widely expected to to run, Cantor said, "I don't think the Democratic Party is going to be smart enough to nominate Joe Biden." He added, Biden is "way too reasonable for the Democratic activist base."

On the Republican side, Cantor said Trump will not and should not face any real primary competition. "The president is not going to be legitimately 'primaried,'" pointing to Trump's widespread support among the GOP base. Cantor said that support comes from the president's policies designed to boost the economy, such as passing tax reform and cutting business regulations.

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