March 14th, 2010
08:17 AM ET
11 years ago

Boehner: Potential competition from Tea Partiers 'a good thing'

Washington (CNN) – During this midterm election year, a leading Republican is inviting competition from potential candidates fielded by the Tea Party movement, a conservative-leaning grassroots movement catalyzed in the past year by opposition to the Obama administration and concerns about unprecedented levels of government debt and spending.

“I think competition is a good thing,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an interview that airs Sunday on State of the Union. “You know, I've got 11 brothers and sisters. I learned about competition early on. But it makes everybody better. And so we've had Tea Party candidates in primaries. [The] [m]ore competition, the better.”

Boehner was commenting on the possibility that third party candidates supported by Tea Partiers might challenge moderate Republicans in swing districts during this year’s primaries.

Earlier: Who are the Tea Party activists?

But, at the same time, Boehner also sought to extend a welcoming hand to the grassroots movement to join leagues with the GOP.

“But when it comes to the Tea Party folks, I think our job is to listen to them,” Boehner told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “And I'm going to listen to them. I'm going to walk with them, and do everything I can to have them - interest them in working with us to bring about a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government here in Washington.”

Boehner’s lack of concern about Tea Party-powered third-party candidates diverges from recent comments by other prominent Republicans.

Veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove told CNN last week that he was concerned about the Tea party movement’s potential to do harm to the GOP.

"It will hurt the Republican Party if some elements of the Tea Party decide to become third party advocates, because it will split the conservative vote," Rove said on The Situation Room.

Despite that concern, Rove said he believes the vast majority of Tea Partiers "are trying to figure out, in a decentralized, grassroots way, how they can remain a force, a movement, that holds the feet of elected officials in both parties to the fire."

Also seeing potential danger from the Tea Party movement, former GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney last week said Tea Party-backed candidates who lose Republican primary bids should not consider running third-party general election bids.

Romney said in an interview with a conservative Web site that "dividing our conservative effort in the general elections" would "basically hand the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed."

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

Filed under: 2010 • GOP • John Boehner • State of the Union • Tea Party movement
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Republicans are Repugnant Taliban

    The 'Orange Boner' is trying desperately to put a good spin on the Tea Partiers because he feels they are under Repugliban control but secretly he is peeing down his leg hoping they do not upset the Repuglibans further and force them to lose even more seats in the off season election.

    March 14, 2010 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  2. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    Since 87% of the "independent" tea baggers would vote for a republiklan in a 2 way campaign, seems those KKK rallies the Reds and Fake News are funding and supporting has opened the door to the revival tent.

    March 14, 2010 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. double standard

    I just wish Ohio would take you back ..You sir are a total jerk !!

    March 14, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. JonDie

    GOP = Tea Party = domestic terrorists = anarchy

    March 14, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    I attended a Coffee Party Movement meeting yesterday and those are the American people I know!!! The RepubliCAN'Ts keep talking about the American People???? For a MINUTE – I was LOST!!! "Do ALL American people think the way of the RepubliCAN'Ts???"

    Yesterday I learned differently!!! The sleeping GIANT has awakened and the RepubliCAN'Ts are in for a RUDE AWAKENING!!! I joined the Coffee Party 6 days ago and the members were more than 101,000 – Yesterday – it grew to over 148,000 members – subtract the 'few' hundred TROLLS!!Yes We Can!!!

    March 14, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. dan

    But competition in health insurance isnt good you moron?

    March 14, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  7. jane

    And how about the Coffee Party, Boehner? They seem to be a good bit above your level, unlike the "Tea Partiers." Will you welcome their competition as well?

    March 14, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. The Jedi Mind Trick

    Let's be clear here ... the "TEA PARTY" ... is the Republican Party simply REBRANDED.

    There use to be an airline by the name of VALUEJET. When it had a horrific crash and people fled that business because of its poor safety & quality image, the company was renamed ... rebranded ... as AirTran (go ahead ... google it).

    This is the same tactic that the Republican Party is attempting with the Tea Party. The Republicans are Terrified that the American people will remember them as the "PARTY-of-NO". The American people hate Gridlock .... obstructionist Republicans ONLY foster GRIDLOCK.

    If Mr. Boehner really supports the competition from the TEA Party, let's see 3 parties in the finally races in November ... Republicans, Tea Baggers, and Democrats.

    Prove me wrong Boehner ... I dare you!

    March 14, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Fooled Again

    The Ron Paul supporters(real tea partiers) will be throwing these old republican bums out too

    March 14, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. gary

    Our two parties have shown that they have no ability to live within our means. In order for our nation to avoid bankruptcy, we need leaders who take a new approach. Tea party, coffee party, Ross Perot party....I would take any new party if it would help us to keep taxes down and cut spending.

    We need to stop taking money from hard working Americans to give free stuff (housing, food, healthcare) to lazy Americans. Half of the people who are currently on disability could do some job. Half of people who are age 65 to 75 and retired could work. Half of college kids who don't work could work. Half of the people on welfare today haven't worked in more that 10 years! These lazy people think they are entitled to a free living. This does not make sense at all...You know who you are, stop free loading!

    I see people complain about illegal immigrants on tv....but honestly, I'd trade one hard working Mexican worker for a lazy American any day. If they are working hard 40 hours a week, I'd be happy to help them with their healthcare.

    March 14, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Emma

    Boehner, you have a way of distorting ideas and facts. I guess you need to do that to feel powerful.

    March 14, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. @ GARY, WHO SAID:

    " March 14th, 2010 9:55 am ET

    We need to stop taking money from hard working Americans to give free stuff (housing, food, healthcare) to lazy Americans. Half of the people who are currently on disability could do some job. Half of people who are age 65 to 75 and retired could work. Half of college kids who don't work could work. Half of the people on welfare today haven't worked in more that 10 years! These lazy people think they are entitled to a free living. This does not make sense at all...You know who you are, stop free loading!"

    Every time I read an ignorant screed like this, I wonder how the Republicanische Bund has the nerve to talk about "Death Panels."

    Their solution to the healthcare crisis: let the young, the old, the ill, the disabled, the uninsured DIE and stop wasting resources that could be used to keep THEIR useless selves alive.

    March 14, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Jill-IN

    What insurance companies need is real competition in health insurance and antitrust oversight or they will drive it into the ground. Within 10 years over 50% of U.S. won't have health insurance on the path the insurance companies are headed. The Republican party made the point thanks to Eric Cantor that we simply can't afford it. We (the taxpayer) simply can't afford it – so thank you guys – you have made the case why we (the taxpayer) cannot afford your health care benefits and any other benefits any longer!

    March 14, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'll give the Tea Party people enough credit to see through Boehner and the GOP because he's playing them for stupid and they're not. The GOP have no plans to give the Tea Party, Coffee Party or any party other than the GOP a seat at the table, but they want their support and will dump them like a hot cake.

    March 14, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. michaelam

    I joined the coffee party a few weeks ago and attended my first meeting yesterday and guess what? We are out in full force to stop the lies, the misinformation, the hate, and corruption.....Good luck Agent Orange with your numerous predictions because there are more intelligent people in this country that take the time and effort to sift through the BS rhetoric, fear, and lies that your party and the Tea Party peddles on a daily basis!

    March 14, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. CAW in MD

    Because the other article was closed on health care, I'll post here.

    I have just one question - if the Republicans are bound and determined to do what the majority of Americans want, then I look forward to them proposing an amendment to the health care bill that adds a public option. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans want the public option.

    If Republicans won't do this, then yet again they have been shown to be unprincipled political panderers who are only care about the majority of Americans when it is to their advantage to do so.

    March 14, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. They call me "tater salad"

    "Competition is a good thing"...............Except when we refer to the health insurance monopoly.....Then suddenly it becomes a bad thing that will make the world blow up and kill us all right after the sky falls on our heads!.........You people really don't see this hypocracy???.......Seriously?!......WOW, what sheep you are!!! I never believed it was possible to be that stupid........Obviously I was wrong!!!

    March 14, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |