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Cantor announces he'll step down as House Majority Leader, backs McCarthy as successor

Cantor leaves the press conference.
Cantor leaves the press conference.
Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that he'd step down as House Majority Leader effective July 31. The GOP's new leadership elections will be held next week, on June 19.

Cantor repeatedly dodged questions about the political implications of his defeat, saying "I'm gonna leave the political analysis to y'all." But he downplayed the idea that the GOP faced serious divisions. "Truly what divides Republicans pales in comparison to what divides us as conservatives from the left and their Democratic Party," he said. "I hope that all Republicans will put minor differences aside and help elect a Republican House and Senate."

On immigration, an issue where challenger Dave Brat attacked him for being a flip-flopper, Cantor argued that his position has never changed — that the system needs reforms, that he opposed the president's approach, and that reform should be done "one step at a time." He reiterated his support to "see the issue of the kids addressed that didn't break any laws and came here unbeknownst to them" — a position Brat criticized him for during the campaign.

When asked if he had a preferred candidate to succeed him as Majority Leader, Cantor said that if his friend and fellow Young Gun Kevin McCarthy chose to run, he "would make an outstanding majority leader and I will be backing him with my full support."

You can watch the full video of Cantor's press conference below, via RollCall.com: