Bloomberg News

Cantor Cancels Wharton School Speech Amid Plans for Protest

October 21, 2011

(Updates with Penn spokesman’s statement in fifth paragraph.)

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor canceled a speech today at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where anti-Wall Street protesters had planned to gather outside.

The Virginia Republican, who referred to the Occupy Wall Street protests as “growing mobs” in an Oct. 7 speech, had been scheduled to speak on the topic “A Fair Shot at the American Dream & Economic Growth,” according to an Oct. 17 advisory from Cantor’s office.

The Republican leader canceled his speech after local press reports quoted Occupy Philadelphia organizers as saying they expected 500 to 1,000 protesters to be outside the hall, according to a Cantor aide who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Cantor had been invited to speak to 250 students, faculty and other university guests, the aide said. Yesterday, Capitol Police told Cantor’s office that the first 300 people would be admitted, regardless of whether they were affiliated with the university, the aide said.

In a statement, university spokesman Ron Ozio said 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 regrets “if there was any misunderstanding with the majority leader’s office on the staging of his presentation,” Ozio said.

Protests on Campus

The Daily Pennsylvanian, the campus newspaper, quoted an organizer of the demonstration, Jamie Mondics of an advocacy group called Keystone Progress, as saying university security officials decided to allow the protest to be conducted on campus property instead of along a nearby public sidewalk.

In an Oct. 7 speech to the Family Research Council’s “Value Voters Forum” in Washington, Cantor said he was “increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country.”

Four days later, Cantor dropped that description of the anti-Wall Street protests in New York and other cities, saying he sympathized with demonstrators who were “upset” because “they are out of work” and “their sense of security for the future is not clear at all.”

Cantor had been scheduled to speak in Jon M. Huntsman Hall, named after the father of Republican presidential candidate Jon M. Huntsman Jr.

--Editors: Laurie Asseo, Justin Blum

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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