Boehner Asserts Leadership of House GOP

Monday, 11 Oct 2010 09:07 AM

By Sean Lengell

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House Minority Leader John A. Boehner continued his attacks against President Obama and other Democrats last week for their "job killing" policies while pressing his case that Republicans have earned another shot at running Congress - further elevating his status as the party's point man in the run-up to the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

The Ohio Republican's tenacious use of his bully pulpit, including recent policy speeches in Cleveland and Washington that stirred unusually strong White House rebuttals, is seen by many as a dress rehearsal for his inevitable rise to speaker of the House should Republicans regain the chamber.

During a campaign speech at a West Chester, Ohio, manufacturing company Friday, Mr. Boehner stressed the need for change, chastising the Democrat-controlled Congress and White House for "disrespecting" the wishes of average Americans and calling the government "out of control."

"Do you have to take it?" he asked the cheering crowd. "Hell no, you don't."

He implored voters to support Republicans' quest to wrestle control of Congress from the Democrats.

"We need a new majority in Congress that will stand up to President Obama and insist that he starts listening to the American people," he said.

The minority leader, who is in line to replace Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, as speaker if Republicans capture the 40 seats they need to gain control of the House, promised that his party has learned from the mistakes that led to the turnover of the chamber in the 2006 elections.

"I can promise you that if we're entrusted with the opportunity to govern, we're going to do things differently," he said. "The American people deserve nothing less, and we will accept nothing less. And I will accept nothing less."

Democrats and their allies, meanwhile, have started portraying Mr. Boehner as the face of a party they say is more interested in protecting Wall Street than average Americans.

Mrs. Pelosi's office issued at least four news releases Friday dismissing the Republican leader's speech.

"Instead of continuing to turn the failed Bush economy around, Leader Boehner and Congressional Republicans want to take us back to the 'exact same' policies that nearly destroyed the economy," Mrs. Pelosi said in one of the news releases.

Richard Trumka, president of the Democrat-aligned AFL-CIO, characterized Mr. Boehner's attacks on Democrats' job policies as hypocritical.

"I can sum up John Boehner's [Friday speech] in three words: no, no, no," the labor leader said. "Boehner and the Republicans in Congress said no to ending the outsourcing of American jobs, no to reforming Wall Street, and no to creating good jobs."

The president's top adviser, David Axelrod, appeared on CBS "Face the Nation" on Sunday and called the minority leader one of the "corporate Republicans here who are kind of factotums for special interest."

"John Boehner was up on Wall Street telling the big finance housing there that he was the only one who stood between them and financial reform ... and that they should give him millions of these dollars, which they apparently are," Mr. Axelrod said.

Mr. Boehner toned down his partisan rhetoric during a major policy speech Sept. 30 at the American Enterprise Institute, criticizing both parties for wasteful spending projects and calling for spending reform on Capitol Hill.

"The dysfunction in Congress is not new. Both parties bear the blame for it," he said.

But with a Republican takeover of the House within reach, Mr. Boehner hasn't let up his attacks on what he calls the failed economic policies of the president and Democratic leadership.

During a speech in Cleveland in late August, the minority leader said it was "time to put grown-ups in charge" and called on Mr. Obama to fire his economic advisers. He used the phrase "job-killing" a dozen times to describe the administration's policies.

In a visit to Ohio days later, the president called Mr. Boehner's comments "bad for America."

The head of Emily's List, a leading Democratic feminist group, last week accused Mr. Boehner of arrogantly and presumptuously predicting a Republican victory in November.

"Make no mistake: The minority leader may not be openly measuring the curtains in the speaker's office, but he's quietly planning where to put his furniture," said Stephanie Schriock, the group's president.

Republicans say the Democratic counterattacks are only a desperate face-saving ploy for a party struggling to defend its failed legislative record.

"I thought [the White House] looked kind of silly giving this fire-breathing response to a constructive policy speech" in Cleveland, said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

The minority leader said his role as the Democrats' boogeyman "comes with the territory."

"You all know me, that I'm such a scary guy," the lawmaker joked with reporters on Capitol Hill shortly before Congress adjourned last month for an election-season recess.

"I'm the most open, transparent person in this town," he added. "You know, I've got good attributes, I've got some that probably people don't like. But I say it the way it is."

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC

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