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. ConsiderThis-FL

    You know we have elected the "bottom of the barrel" to Congress when one of their own feels a need to tell the others to behave and be respectful during the President of the United States' speech. This reminds me of children having to be told by their parents how to behave so that the parents aren't embarrased and so that the child doesn't demonstrate a lack of home-training. Pathetic.

    January 27, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Charlie in Maine

    Yeah cause it is important to try new things.

    January 27, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. rta

    boehner can't spell respect, he has called for respect for a whole year because he himself does not respect the president. he is a disgrace and very condescending and as an Ohioan I hope he is retired so he can play golf and work on his permanent tan. his racist obstructionist attitude for the past year shows america and ohio what type of leader he is . he and wilson should stay home and not attend the state of the union. the nerve of this so called leader is so phoney. remember he was one of the politicians with bachman who stood by while tea partiers held up joker signs as obama and every other derogatory sign and then stated he did not see them. well, boehner many see right through you and it is not pretty

    January 27, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Terry from West Texas

    Being uncommonly rude is a characteristic of Conservatives. I doubt that Republicans eager to be seen as leading the anti-Obama charge will be able to resist staging a little scene of some kind. Be sure that the cameraman will be tipped off a little in advance.

    Being respectful of American institutions is not something Conservatives are very good at.

    January 27, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. anotherGDlefty

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

    C'mon John, pick up a phone & call Rahm and Barack. You can be the bigger man then.

    You know, for the good of America and all. What's best for America and Americans is what you want to discuss right ?

    Until ALL you elected idiots REALLY ATTEMPT constructive dialogue, there will be none.

    January 27, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Sarah Who

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

    Sounds like Rahm Emanuel is a pretty smart guy!

    January 27, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. hongli

    This is very SAD for the Republican Party when it's own leader has to come out and say to them "Be respectful to the President". One would expect everyone to be respectful to the President of the Unitd States but just ask Joe Wilson what happened. Shame on the Republican Party.

    January 27, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Angi's mom

    This guy leads the parade of Just Say No clowns.
    No to U.S. courts.
    No to prisons on U.S. soil.
    No to a spending freeze.
    No to changing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
    No to immigration reform.
    Oh yeah, no to health reform.

    January 27, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Portland, Maine

    it's sad when the opposition party calls on his colleagues to be "respectful and considerate" while the President speaks. so sad....

    January 27, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. Terry from West Texas

    "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."

    It sounds like a little Conservative street theater is being planned. I suspect that buses are being chartered right now for the "spontaneous" demonstration being planned. There will be a shortage of tea bags in America's supermarkets this week.

    January 27, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. John in WV

    Letting a senator who called the president a liar in the halls of congress give the republican response to the state of the union address is not respectful. This president has been called the n-word, muslim, liar, and fake. Talk show hosts have called for his complete failure and just this morning one host said Michelle Obama had an underbite and Hulk Hogan arms. This is the same host who previously said that if the president was a doctor, all his patients would be dead and if he was a lawyer, all his clients would be in prison. Oh, I almost forgot, he is not a legal American citizen either. True respect indeed.

    January 27, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Jane

    Really, why start now?????? Oh yeah – you're trying help voters forget just how useless and obstructionistic the GOP has been. Hypocrits!!!!

    January 27, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. felicia

    Well la di da, boner spoke out, congress is nothing more then disrespectful pigs. Who don't deserve to work with President Obama. They need to glad he like them.

    January 27, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. schneider360

    It's kind of sad that the leadership of the GOP even needs to say this.

    January 27, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Martha

    I won't be watching.

    Really sick and tired of all politicians right now.

    January 27, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Wisconsonite

    ""I have not talked to Rahm Emanuel in a year," Boehner said"

    Someone from the press should ask Boehner who's choice that is, don't you think?? I'm betting, since the Republicans in the Senate have fillibustered more times in the last year than in the whole history of the US Senate . . .more times by MANY! . . . that Boehner isn't being very genuine when he laments, ""It's really shocking...there's just no interaction," . Republicans in Congress don't want the country to move forward. They believe if they can stall forward movement, the country will continue to be stagnant and more and more people who don't CHOOSE to be informed as to the true facts, well those people will blame the Democrats in Congress and the President. After all, THAT is the majority party, right??? They believe those uniformed people will then come back to the Republican party and vote for them again. It's not that simple folks. The Republicans in Congress are using you as PAWNS in their little political game. And you're falling for it. Please . . . wise up.

    January 27, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. MsDp

    This guy, just like his party (GOP) is such a liar and a hypocrite. I advise all persons, to please watch C-SPAN(1,2 & 3) if you really want the truth about your congressional staff (ALL OF THEM). For this guy (Bohner) to make any comments about being nice to the President or not talking to any of the white house staff is helarious. Bohner has an automatic built in superiority complex towards this administration. This attitude he had in the beginning and he continues to have a superior complex. I think he sees Washington as his own personnal business, you know like he is the CEO and only his ideas matter. If you want to see what I'm alking about, please watch C-SPAN.

    January 27, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Tom D. Pacific Palisades, Calif

    A bit late for that. What's Boehner's problem besides being totally two faced?

    January 27, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Cynthia

    He has no relationship with the President or Rahmn, wonder why? boehner is trying to act like he has been willing to work with the white house when in reality this liar has not. All he has done, along with the rest of his party is divided this country.

    "he believes the anger at washington is 100 higher now then it was when the democrates took over" What a crock. Of course he is going to say that, he's a republician a stupid GOP

    January 27, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Wisconsonite

    One more thing, please. I think it is a sad, sad commentary on our current political climate that ANY elected official would have to be reminded to "respectful" of our duly elected president.

    January 27, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. A. Goodwin

    Obama has made every effort to include Republican's in the decision making process only to get spit at by the far right. My quesiton is – why would Obama want to meet wiht Boehner when the result will be status quo by him as Boehner only knows how to think/vote along party lines?

    Figures that he would mention "dont ask dont tell"...another racist from the right. And why mock freezing of salaries? Most people are LUCKY to have a job right now – the thought of giving a raise at my company is a JOKE. I would EXPECT our government employees to respect and understand what this means. Why should Boehner...or any other govt. employee get a big fat raise when the rest of us have to take a cut?

    Oh and the comment "just pour gasoline on them..." I'm sure he meant they are all "worked up – like on fire"...but he could certainly have used better words for sure!

    January 27, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. KLS

    What a novel idea - be respectful to the President of the United State!!
    Sad the GOP has become so disrespectful that John Boehner even has to say this.
    Congress acts like a bunch of little kids who can't play nicely together in the sandbox. Time for all of them to grow-up and do the job they were elected to do!!

    January 27, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Jill-IN

    ZERO private dialogue in the past year – no interaction in the past year with the Dems? In an interview this morning on NPR, Boehner reported that he (they the Republicans) have repeatedly reached across and tried to work with the Democrats? What gives?

    January 27, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Mlhall

    How did this nut get to be where he is today? Mr. Boehner an employee is new when you see he or she never held a job or he or she has no income. New equipment is find but we can not put people to work on new equipment with no money to hire people, dumb butt.

    January 27, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. Texas Jack

    Boehner is not much leader if he wants someone to be respectful to the same man who disgraced the U.S. Flag and the Queen of England, but bowed and kissed the hand of a Muslim leader. No this man OF CHANGE gets no respect from me. The change he is referring to is what will take place this year and in 2012. NEVER AGAIN FOR THE SAKE OF AMERICA.

    January 27, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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