Boehner: Politics President Obama is running on 'almost un-American'
January 24th, 2012
12:54 PM ET
2 years ago

Boehner: Politics President Obama is running on 'almost un-American'

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner Tuesday forcefully denounced the Democrats' campaign theme that they are for the middle class and Republicans are for the wealthy – saying the politics the president is running on are "almost un-American."

"This is a president who said I'm not going to be a divider, I'm going to be a uniter, and running on the politics of division and envy is – to me it's almost un-American," said Boehner.

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Speaking to a small group of reporters in his Capitol office ahead of the president's State of the Union address, Boehner said Democrats have been trying to push the same middle class versus wealthy theme for "eighty years" and suggested it won't work for President Obama.

"He can run, he can hide, make all the noise he wants – but it's going to be a referendum on his policies, and they haven't worked," said Boehner.

Boehner backed up his comments and philosophy with a quote from the late President John F. Kennedy, saying "a rising tide lifts all boats" – a phrase often used to suggest that, when the general economy is good, everyone benefits.

The House speaker accused President Obama of being "AWOL since Labor Day" and said the two men haven't spoken since December 23rd – over a month ago.

"They've been in full campaign mode since then and I expect tonight we'll see more of the same," said Boehner, who also said the State of the Union speech was "written by the campaign."

Still, he said he hopes the president produces an "olive branch" to Republicans in his address to Congress.

"I've made clear to my members, while we have big disagreements about the kind of policies that are best for the country, our job still is to find common ground on behalf of the American people," he said.

Boehner hit a growing, coordinated theme from Republicans about President Obama – that he acts as though he is not responsible for the current economy – but he is.

"The president would like people to believe tonight this is his first year in the White House, it's as though he's taking the place of Rip Van Winkle and forgetting the fact that he's been president for 3 years. The first two years he had a Democratic Congress who gave him everything he wanted and the fact is his policies have not only not helped the economy, they've made it worse."

Boehner insisted the goal is to "work with the president, especially on the issue of jobs," and said the only thing on the Democrats' agenda is extending the payroll tax cut for one year.

Boehner on the GOP presidential race

On the subject of Mitt Romney's just-released taxes, Boehner noted that Romney seemingly paid what was legally due.

Pressed whether Romney's income and his 14 percent tax rate would work against him with voters, Boehner took a different view, saying he thought Romney having paid three million dollars in taxes "would strike most people as a lot of money."

Though Boehner served as a Gingrich lieutenant when Gingrich was Speaker of the House, he insisted he was going to "stay out" of the GOP primary fight because he knows all the men still running.

He would only say the primary process will "produce a good candidate and I expect to support him."

Some Republican editorial writers are still calling for someone new to enter the GOP race. Boehner said he could only see that happening if one of the candidates running now fails to get enough delegates to win.

Does he think that could happen? "I don't know," Boehner replied.

While he suggested the primary season has been a good one, Boehner also complained of too many debates and too long a process calling it "not the most efficient way to select a candidate."

"My point is this has been a very long grueling process, and it probably prevents good people from making a decision to run," said Boehner.

Still, pointing to the Democrats lengthy, contentious 2008 primary season, which resulted in the election of President Obama, Boehner does not think a drawn out primary will hurt the Republican nominee.

"I'm not concerned about how long the primary process has been nor am I concerned about how long it lasts," said Boehner.

Boehner on his relationship with President Obama

The House Speaker, who said last year he barely knew the president, now says the two have a relationship that's "actually pretty good."

"You'd be surprised, we banter back and forth," he said.

When pressed on what appeared to be a contradiction - that he claims to have a good relationship with a president he hasn't spoken to in a month, Boehner insisted they have a good personal dynamic, but their working relationship was "unproductive."

The two men spent a lot of time negotiating over the past year - especially on an ill-fated debt ceiling deal.

Boehner was biting when it came to the President's negotiating skills.

"It was like negotiating with someone who never negotiated anything," said Boehner, "at some point someone has to say 'yes.'"

The Speaker said the two men "come from two different planets" when it comes to their philosophies.

"We understand each other well. We speak a different language. I can never get him to say 'yes,'" he said.

Boehner on the House Republicans

The House speaker's first year in the job marked some difficult moments trying to corral his members to find compromise – especially on issues of spending.

What did he learn?

Boehner said he made clear to House Republicans at their retreat last week not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

He said he told them "when they push for too much they actually get less than what they would have gotten."

When asked of the members got it, Boehner replied with a smile, "some got it, some probably didn't."

Also see:

Gingrich close to 'money bomb' goal

Gingrich lands Fred Thompson endorsement

New year, old fights in Congress


Filed under: 2012 • John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Jack - In other words we, the working class, should admire the wealthy because they will embrace us lovingly and take care of us when times are bad and they are making millions but have our well-being at heart. Uhuh. Got it.
    =============================================================================================
    Actually they are paying for most of the government in good times AND bad times. The evil rich have income no matter what, just less some time but almost never zero. You should be more appreciative of the fact that the USA has so many successful people that pay more than their fair share, so you don't have to. When Obama runs all the rich people out of the country THEN you'll learn first hand of the folly of socialism. YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY.

    January 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Laverne

    John Boehner is the worst speaker of the house right next to Newt Gingrich! Boehner is the one who has ZERO accomplishments as a leader. He can't control his caucus, he has no leadership skills to exhibit and the only thing he is good at is trying to demonize and belittling the president. This guy is a top of the line loser and will soon realize along with Gingrich playing the angry white man won't work for long. They both are going to go down faster than a 747!

    January 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Nodack

    More political BS. I imagine it's just goi g to get uglier by the day as the election approaches. Now every American is UN-American depending on which side you are on. Maybe none of us are Americans anymore or is it all Americans hate America, I can't keep track of the political spins.

    January 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. anagram_kid

    Truth and Nothing…
    I don’t think 60% of America want the affordable health care act repealed. Do you know anyone who is OK with having their insurance revoked/denied because of a pre-existing condition, let alone six of ten people? I also don’t think this was President Obama’s greatest achievement. His greatest achievement, which was not intentional, was to expose that there is a portion of the electorate that prefers a president that makes them feel good about themselves over one that is logical, educated, accomplished and possess the fundamental skill every elected official should have – the ability to make informed well thought out decisions. I consider this an achievement, because the first step in fixing a problem is identifying it.
    Obama 2012 – Because critical thinking skills matter

    January 24, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Hongli

    I would like to ask John Bonehead if it's because he's a BLACK PRESIDENT.George Bush was a total Failure,John McCain lost his chance because he was snobbed by the "American People" and the four jokers that are presently running for thr GOP's pick makes Ronald Regan quiver in his grave.

    January 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Rudy NYC - It appears that boiling hatred is what has motivated the conservative base in this election cycle. Not the middle class. Not the foreclosure problem. Nothing except hatred, gloom, doom, and destruction.
    =========================================================================================
    Well when Obama, who is supposed to be a President of ALL the people, but purposely carves up the population and pits them against each other, rich against poor, black against white, hispanic against white, evil corporations against all of us, The Supreme Court against all of us, then hate appears to be his primary objective. And I must admit, Obama is very good at hate filled rhetoric. It might explain why over 50% don't believe he should be re-elected and nearly 70% think the country is going in the wrong direction. Another 4 years of his hate filled socialist rhetoric and there will be rioting in the streets.

    January 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Jilli

    Riiiight Mr. Speaker...and what exactly has your republican congress actually accomplished since the tea bagger "wave election"? One accomplishment, the lowest approval rating in history. Congrats.

    As far as your "un-American" comment, shame on you. Problem is, you obviously have no shame Mr. Boehner. We can smell your desperation prompting such a ridiculous and pathetic comment – I'd probably feel the same way if I was a proven failure as you've been since assuming the speakers position. Just remember, you made your bed...

    January 24, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Me in MN

    "UnAmerican." Geez, just when that kind of hate filled verbiage was actually dying down. Santorum also didn't correct a woman who called Obama a Muslim, saying it wasn't his job to correct mistakes. Must be an election year.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Hongli

    I would like to ask John Bonehead if it's because he's a BLACK PRESIDENT.George Bush was a total Failure,John McCain lost his chance because he was snobbed by the "American People" and the four jokers that are presently running for the GOP's pick makes Ronald Regan quiver in his grave.

    January 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. vic , nashville ,tn

    “This is a president who said I'm not going to be a divider, I'm going to be a uniter, and running on the policies of division and envy is – to me it's almost un-American," said Boehner.

    Mr. Boehner your answer always “NO” you are pointing one finger to president other three pointing at you

    January 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    He was a lot nicer when he was boozing at lunch. At least he wasn't lying ALL the time.

    January 24, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    this is one of the reason Congress is polling at an 11% approval rating the ones in Congress polling the lowest are the Republicans. Haven't forgotten yet the end of Dec 2011 when the GOP came out with egg on their faces and the American people further realized who was working in their best interest. Wasn't Boehner that said in an earlier "negotiation" with the president that he got 90% of everything he wanted? The right thinks we are all "blinded by the right" but it's far fewer that believe this tripe than they want to admit.

    January 24, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    That "big" gavel didn't improve his brain one bit. Cantor would be a better leader, and he's Hitler, Jr.

    January 24, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. BQ

    --Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Please do the public a favor and let us know if your psychiatrists ever deem it acceptable for you to be out in public again.

    January 24, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. MTATL67

    I swear the more I hear this man speaks the less credible and more desperate he sounds. It’s almost as if he is in crisis. I watched him on the GOP PR Firm station aka Foxnews and my reaction. What emotion is laughter/anger? Speaker Boehner and GOP have been very liberal with Corporations. Any Republican holding office that has followed the obstructionist agenda has betrayed their own values and have no business calling the President or anyone Un-American. Congressional Republican will have to face the consequences of their lack of action under failed leadership of Speaker Boehner.

    January 24, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. HawaiiGuest

    Boehner represents eveything that all Americans should be fighting to remove from our government. He is a lying, divisive scu.mbag with absolutely no respect for the office of president. Forget fact checking the debates they should fact check this article it would just be hilarious.

    January 24, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. vatoloke

    "Well when Obama, who is supposed to be a President of ALL the people, but purposely carves up the population and pits them against each other,.."

    Wrong! That was the Tea Bagging Party, Bonehead, McConnel, Cantor et al that's brought about the divisiveness that is happening because they don't want to serve under a black president and people like yourself prefer it that way.

    January 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. seriously???

    "The first two years he had a Democratic Congress who gave him everything he wanted and the fact is his policies have not only not helped the economy, they've made it worse.".... LIE. Obama lost a filibuster-proof congress when Kennedy died months after he took office. Not to mention that Obama and the democratic congress passed a recovery act that prevented a depression and stabilized the economy to begin to recover.

    January 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. logicnLA

    An expert has spoken. Boehner would know what it's like to be "almost unAmerican"

    January 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. BLKMANinAmerica

    WOW.....................John Boehner really.....................so what might ask is "American"? Stealing for have-not to give it all to "have's"..................what a clown this jerk-off is. Boehner, you really don't need to hate because you and repuks have no POLICIES, morels or any regard for middle America. Find another job little johnnie booie!

    January 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. bobden

    It is not true - it is a repub BS lie that 60% of American people want the health care act repealed.
    60% of repubs, maybe.

    January 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Gary Street

    Truth and nothing but the Truth forgot something...the truth. The 60% against the health care only exists among the radical tea-party supporters. The majority of actual Americans have found this program helpful to the average American.

    January 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. Dee

    Speaker Boehner just does not get it. What is pathetic is that he went on Fox News and denigrated the President and is speech before he even presented it to the American people. How pathetics is that?

    He came right back in 2012 with same the divisive rhetoric as in 2011 and this does not help the country.

    January 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    "Almost" un-American is being generous. I would have to label them subversive, at best.

    January 24, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. anna

    Boehner and his cronies should be tried for treason.

    January 24, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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