Congressman Eric Cantor canceled a scheduled speech Friday at Penn's Wharton School of Business after determining the audience could no longer be controlled. Hundreds of Occupy Philadelphia protesters were marching from City Hall to the campus to protest the public speech which was to address "A Fair Shot at the American Dream and Economic Growth."
In remarks prepared for the speech (published after its cancellation by the university's newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian), Cantor was to say "There are politicians and others who want to demonize people that have earned success in certain sectors of our society. They claim that these people have now made enough, and haven’t paid their fair share. But, pitting Americans against one another tends to deflate the aspirational spirit of our people and fade the American dream. I believe that the most successful among us are positioned to use their talents to help grow our economy and give everyone a hand up the ladder and the dignity of a job."
College students from Penn and Temple joined the Occupy Philly protesters on Day 16 of their demonstrations. Friday at noon, Temple students unhappy with tuition hikes and cuts to professor salaries began to march from their campus to Dilworth Plaza, the Occupy Philly base camp. At 2:30 p.m., the combined group then began to march down Walnut Street to the University of Pennsylvania, picking up Penn students along the way.
In a press release, Occupy claimed the purpose of the march to Penn was “to bring awareness of corporate greed to Congressman Eric Cantor.”
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Cantor, the House Majority Leader and U.S. Representative for Virginia, made headlines two weeks ago when he stated he was “increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and other cities across the country.” The use of the word “mobs” caused considerable controversy. Cantor has since backed away from these comments but still claimed the movement was divisive and pitted Americans against other Americans.
"The Office of the Majority Leader was informed last night by Capitol Police that the University of Pennsylvania was unable to ensure that the attendance policy previously agreed to could be met," Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said in an email to Philly.com late Friday.
“The general consensus here is we don’t appreciate him,” said Occupy Philly protester Adam Hill. “We think he’s part of the problem, not the solution. We’ll just go there and voice our concerns. It would really be nice if he would accept an invitation to come down and see what we actually have going on instead of going on TV shows trying to run us through the mud.”
The university released this statement. “Wharton deeply regrets that the event scheduled at the school this afternoon with Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been cancelled. The university community was looking forward to hearing Majority Leader Cantor's comments on important public issues and we hope there will be another opportunity for him to speak on campus. The Wharton speaker series is typically open to the general public and that is how the event with Majority Leader Cantor was billed. We very much regret if there was any misunderstanding with the Majority Leader's office on the staging of his presentation.”