Republican House Speaker John Boehner charged that President Barack Obama's re-election strategy will be to "pull out every bogeyman they can" to scare voters and distract them from economic issues. The speaker made the remarks in a CBS News interview aired Wednesday.
Boehner, who hails from Ohio, spoke out as Obama traveled to the critical battleground state to defend his handling of the Great Recession, the top issue on voters' minds heading into the general election campaign.
"The president's going to try to make the election about anything other than his failed economic policies, because he can't run on his record," the speaker told CBS News. "And so they're going to pull out every bogeyman they can."
Boehner had been asked about Obama's sharp criticisms of the budget crafted by Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The president had denounced this earlier as a "radical" plan that cuts taxes on the wealthy while slashing benefits for the middle class in a form of "social Darwinism." Obama has taken pains to tie Mitt Romney to the Ryan plan, which the presumptive Republican nominee endorsed. The speaker also played down concerns that the drawn-out fight for the Republican nomination had hurt Romney, saying he saw no "real damage." Boehner, whose interview was recorded Tuesday, added: "It got messy."
"After any primary, there's always a little retooling. Always some adjustments, in terms of now you have a different opponent. ... You'll see some new things out of this campaign," he said.
The lawmaker also revived a popular Republican criticism of Obama: that he has been campaigning, not governing.
"The president checked out last Labor Day," said Boehner. "All he's done is campaign full time for the last six months. He's not been engaged in the legislative process at all. There have been no efforts at trying to work with Democrats and Republicans to address this issue at all. It's shameful."
The White House denies the charge, arguing in effect that Obama can walk and chew gum at the same time—he can raise money for his re-election bid one day, and attend an international summit with leaders from the Western Hemisphere the next. Obama's team insists that not every clash with Republicans on policy is purely about politics.
"The president is still spending the vast preponderance of his time on his official duties," Obama press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in mid-March.
"I would admit that there will be a gradual increase in the amount of his time that he spends on political events. But we are a long way from the point where that becomes a significant part of his schedule. We're just not there yet," said Carney.
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