Lifestyle & Belief

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor cancels speech to avoid protest


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 25, 2011.


Chip Somodevilla

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., cancelled a Friday afternoon speech at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business upon learning that protestors planned to make some noise around the event, CBS News reports.

Cantor was scheduled to give a talk on income inequality, entitled “A Fair Shot at the American Dream & Economic Growth,” the Los Angeles Times reports. That piqued the interest of activists with groups like and Occupy Philadelphia, since early on, Cantor slammed the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators protesting income inequality. (Cantor later took back the comment and said he understood their frustration with the down economy, the L.A. Times reports.)

Wharton told Cantor’s office that school officials would admit the first 300 people who arrived for the speech and that university affiliation would not be required to attend, CBS News reports. The school also said protestors would be allowed on campus.

Cantor said he was backing out because his office had only agreed to a speech in front of an audience made up of 250 Wharton-affiliated individuals like faculty, MBAs and undergraduates, CBS News reports.

"The Wharton speaker series is typically open to the general public, and that is how the event with Majority Leader Cantor was billed," the university said in a statement. "We very much regret if there was any misunderstanding with the Majority Leader's office on the staging of his presentation."

In spite of Cantor’s absence, protestors marched to Wharton’s campus on Friday afternoon from the Occupy Philadelphia encampment at City Hall, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Outside the university, demonstrators chanted, "Get up, get down, there's a revolution in this town!”

“We will still be here, wondering why he refuses to meet with us,” Mike Morrill, executive director for Keystone Progress, one of the groups coordinating the protest, said, according to the L.A. Times. “It appears he doesn’t want to have a conversation with the 99% -- this says a lot about Cantor’s integrity.”