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."