January 27th, 2010
12:24 PM ET
13 years ago

GOP leader calls on colleagues to be 'respectful and considerate' to Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/27/art.getty.boehner.jpg caption="GOP leader calls on colleagues to be 'respectful and considerate' to Obama."]
(CNN) - House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, says President Obama’s test at Wednesday’s State of the Union address will be whether he will offer merely a "rhetorical pivot, or are they really going to do something."

But Boehner – wary about disrupting what he called political wind at Republicans’ backs now – is also warning his own GOP colleagues to be respectful during tonight’s national address. People still remember the famous outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, who shouted "you lie" at the president the last time Obama addressed Congress.

"You invite someone to your home you should be respectful and considerate," Boehner told a small group of reporters at a Wednesday morning breakfast.

Still, Boehner gave some new insight into just how politically polarized Washington is right now by revealing that – besides occasional White House meetings with congressional leaders – he has "zero" private dialogue with the president or his top aides.

"I have not talked to Rahm Emanuel in a year," Boehner said, speaking of the president’s chief of staff and former Democratic congressman.

"It's really shocking...there's just no interaction," said Boehner.

The House GOP leader was careful to emphasize he does have a "great" relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but said "we never talk about anything real. She and I talk about policy? I mean, why bother, and we both recognize it."

On politics, Boehner said the Republican win last week in Massachusetts has helped the GOP recruit quality candidates to run against Democrats. For example, one potential Republican candidate, whom he wouldn’t name, had been saying no for 9 months, but last week finally said yes.

Boehner said he believes the anger at Washington right now is “100 times more intense than anything we saw in 1994,” when Democrats were swept out of power.

The House’s top Republican also predicted that, besides the economy, terrorism will be a very prominent issue this election year – one that will help his party.

"It brings up another whole zone that will be part of this campaign," Boehner said.

He added there is so much opposition to the administration's plans to try terror suspects in civilian court, and insisted the trial planned in a New York federal courthouse won’t happen.

"The idea that they’re going to ask us for $500 million to fix up this prison in Illinois, and they’re going to ask us to change the law to allow them to bring these detainees here, is not going to pass the Congress,” he said. “It’s not gonna happen.”

Looking ahead to some of the substance of Obama’s State of the Union address, Boehner called the idea to freeze some discretionary spending "a modest step in the right direction."

On tax breaks the president is expected to propose to stimulate job growth, Boehner said he supports tax credits for new equipment, but warned a tax credit for new employees is "fraught with all kinds of policy problems" because he said it’s hard to determine whether an employee is really new.

He mocked the concept of freezing salaries for government officials as "political noise" and said the don’t-ask-don’t-tell gays in the military policy should be left "alone."

And on immigration reform – Boehner barely had words to express his clear delight at the notion that Democrats would consider bringing up the polarizing issue this election year.

"If they're going to go down this path ... it means they’re not listening to people," said Boehner. "They've already got people ready to march in the streets. You may as well just pour gasoline on them."

Update:The Obama White House disputes the GOP leader's contention that there has been no contact with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. An administration source said they have had at least three conversations or encounters since November.

soundoff (151 Responses)
  1. Matt, Boston, MA

    Im a liberal. But let me get this straight. President Obama wants to talk to all world leaders whether they like us or not, but he cant talk to congressional leaders of the other party? What the heck?

    January 27, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. People's Voice

    These people have no clue what respect means.

    January 27, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Good to be reminded that one should not allow their emotions to over ride their sense of civility.

    January 27, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. DT

    LEast one of these Repubs has a brain...

    January 27, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. American Feminist

    Rahm Emmanuel hasn't interacted with the GOP leaders in over a year? Finally, a piece of good news for us progressives! Give up on bi-partisanship!!! It's a no-win situation.

    January 27, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. S.B.

    I don't understand what the big deal is over where the "underpants bomber" is tried. Apparently Boehner has no faith in our court system which doesn't say much for him as an American. The Republicans made no objections when the "shoe bomber" was tried in Federal court so either he thinks our court system has really deteriorated since that trial (If that's the case it happened under Bush's watch) or he's just blowing smoke. I suspect the latter!!

    January 27, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. DALE

    Amazing that he would have to say that. Maybe he should tell them that they need to be quiet in the library too. Oh, and don't forget to wash your hands after using the restroom.

    January 27, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Donald

    I am please to see that Minority House leader Rep. John Boehner has taken the proactive step in warning his fellow GOP members to show some respect to the president of the United States of America. The whole world will be watching. Another inappropriate child-like outburst from adults who were elected to represent their constituents will only reflect negatively on the constituents themselves for electing people who behave like spoil teenagers to represent them. Yes we may not be please with the way things are being handled but there is an appropriate way in a civilize country as the USA, for each person to express their views. May God bless America and its elected officials with the wisdom to make the appropriate decision(s) and say the correct things.

    January 27, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Boner is a joke. If he thinks the GOP will act like professionals and not spoiled brats, he is more out of touch with reality than the birthers are.

    January 27, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Bill

    Sorry John Boehner, I have no respect for thst clown, and consequently will never display any.

    January 27, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. historian

    It is a little late for Boehner to ask for civility. Elections are coming up and I guess he wants his party to clean up their acts of cruelty, viciousness, malice, spitefulness and evil deeds. His party has done nothing to alleviate the serious problems we are experiencing. No Republican will get my vote and that definitely includes McCann & Kyle. Some of their acts are totally dispictable and absolutely nauseating.

    January 27, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    Laughable. This from Johnny Tantrumpants, who threw draft legislation on the floor of the House while ranting about "socialism." Idiot.

    "It brings up another whole zone that will be part of this campaign,"

    Right. Use terrorism to terrorize the voters. Scared people will believe anything.

    "a tax credit for new employees is "fraught with all kinds of policy problems" because he said it’s hard to determine whether an employee is really new."

    No, it's not. There are all kinds of laws about what records must be kept in human resources departments and a 2-3 year lookback period for any red-flag claims of "newness" easily solves most of the problem. THIS is "political noise": he knows darn well that such a tax credit would be very effective in creating jobs and that's the LAST thing the GOP wants prior to Nov. 2010. They might get on board after that if they win a majority in one of the houses, so they could later claim "see? we did it, not them," but if they don't win a majority, it will stay business as usual, i.e., them blocking everything so nothing gets done.

    January 27, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Debby

    Respect has to be earned not given Boehner, I don't care who's house it is.

    January 27, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. tmart

    He didn't make it clear whether he'd actually been asked by administration officials for him to talk to them. In other words, did they ask and he refused, or did they not ask at all. Anyway, THIS is the ONE MAN that from his somber gloominess you can tell NEVER has wanted to work with the administration on ANYTHING. Why can't he lighten up and be more engaging?

    January 27, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. forty

    Why not just keep up the threat of filibuster and tie Washington into a knot just like it has been. Do you think the election of Brown was a good thing for this country? 97% of the people in his state already have health insurance. It was done on Kennedy's watch. They elected Brown to stop health care reform for the rest of the country.

    January 27, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. petena

    NO, NO, NO, NO, NO NO, NO. IT WILL NOT WORK, NO, NO, NO, AND DID I FORGET TO SAY NO? That will be the Republican answer to his address. Surprise??????? they talk about Obama's big spending but not that the dificit he received came from the Rebublicans.

    January 27, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Thank you, Mr. Boehner, there is a rudeness that's obvious from the Republicans toward the President of the United States, and the American people are watching. We, Americans, do not appreciate rudeness.

    Since President Obama took office, I have watched the GOP hate, disrespect, demean and treat the president with contempt.

    The latest NBC poll shows that the majority of Americans still have an unfavorable view of Republicans, don't make it worse by disrespecting the president that the majority of Americans still like & support.

    January 27, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Irma in North Carolina

    Gosh this is unblievable coming from one of the Party of no, but you can see at the same time in a more polite way he was still putting the President down.

    January 27, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. Ken

    The sad truth is (and we all know this), the Republican party and their leadership do not have any sort of 'good-will' intentions. They just want to regain power. It's simply all games and politics. If it's true that the White House hasn't spoken to Boehner in a year, maybe it's because they realize it's just a waste of time. Republican leadership as been rhetorical from the beginning. That's just sad.

    Wouldn't it be nice for the politicians to say, "let's make this place better." Instead, the Republicans are in constant strategy mode: "how can we get power back?".

    And, even if you do run into a Republican who wants to collaborate, it's not really a collaboration. If the Republican doesn't get 100% of what he/she wants, then they walk out of the room.

    The sad truth is, if they would actually come together, in good faith, then all of their jobs would be much more secure. 'Majority' doesn't always have to mean 'powerful'.

    January 27, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Orange Curtain, CA

    Oh please! Rudeness, hostility, and promoting criminals that break into Democratic offices to spy is a trademark of the Republicans. Too late damage is done.

    January 27, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. katiec

    The republicans do not know the meaning of respectful and considerate.
    Their sewer politics, goals of destroying our president, party first, win at any cost have taken away any credibility they once had. They have destroyed any honor and integrity they once had with their lies, distortions fear mongering and total disgard for our country and us.
    Could someone please telll me what the republicans have done for our country these last 15 years?? Cannot think of one constructive thing, so why don't you critics enlighten me??

    January 27, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Joan

    The Republicans lost their invitations to the White House when they publicly said they wanted his plans to fail, when they criticized and voted no to everything even when they were good ideas and when they admitted they wanted the health care plan to be President Obama's Waterloo. When the voters step back and realize that a lot of the reasons for the slowing of progress is because the Republicans are obstructing everything, then they may see that it is the Democrats who really have their best interests. This whole strategy of "fear, smear and NO" may just backfire on the Republicans. Hope the American people are smart enough to see through them.

    January 27, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. John

    GOP leader calls on colleagues to be “respectful and considerate” to Obama

    Boehner needs to remind them of that?

    Apparently the GOP kiddies ignored the civility and manners lessons back in grade school.

    January 27, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. John D.

    I would not worry too much! That's just all that TRANSPARENCY AND BIPARTISANSHIP OBAMA LIED ABOUT. Not to mention the fact that right about now they are totally lost as to what to do now that Teddys seat is in the hands of anyone but a Democrat. They are still asking themselves how could we lose Kennedys seat instead of asking WHY did we lose his seat.

    Well, they lost it because the ignorance of Obama, Reid and Falusi. They would not listen to the people who were telling them no on healthcare. They lost it because of their arrogance and self ritchousness. They lost it because of their tax and spend philosophy. They lost it because of their sneaky back door, closed door anticks from Reid and Falusi. They lost it because they are soft on the terrorists and are trying them in civilian courts where they have the same rights citizens have. They are moving them to Illinois just so Obama can save a little face from his Socialist policies that are now all but dead in the water and sinking fast. The Rats are bailing out too!

    January 27, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Cathy in AZ

    Perhaps if the Republican leadership had shown not only respect, but leadership they might have warranted some interaction. The constant refusual to offer any cooperation or ideas has NOT APPEARED from the GOP since the very second President Obama took the oath of office. They have been nothing but obstructionists.
    I do like the apparent "instructions" to members of the House to behave this evening – nothing wrong with not clapping or even booing, but to call the President a "liar" was beneath even the GOP.
    They can cease the whinning about terrorism as well – remember 9/11, the shoe bomber, the anthrax attacks happened on President Bush's watch and he took 6 days to respond to the shoe bomber while clearing brush at the Crawford Ranch. ENOUGH!

    January 27, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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