House Speaker Boehner Enters Presidential Campaign Fray

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  April 27, 2012 at 9:24 AM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; photo by Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his weekly press conference on Thursday. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.

The Morning Line

House Speaker John Boehner endorsed Mitt Romney just last week, and by Thursday he had turned into one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s fiercest allies on Capitol Hill, launching a sharp rebuke of President Obama’s trip to three college campuses, where he urged Congress to prevent a doubling of student interest loan rates.

“For the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic,” Rep. Boehner said. “And his campaign ought to be reimbursing the Treasury [Dept.] for the cost of this trip.”

The attacks were so blunt that the president could have been forgiven if he accidentally thought for a moment Thursday that his general election opponent was the congressman from Ohio and not the former governor of Massachusetts.

“Our country’s facing some major economic and fiscal challenges, yet here’s the president wasting time on a fake fight to try and gain his own re-election,” Boehner said. “These are the kinds of political stunts, and frankly they aren’t worth it and worthy of his office. This is the biggest job in the world, and I’ve never seen a president make it smaller.”

During a briefing with reporters Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the president’s travel, contending the fate of the student loan legislation had been in doubt until Mr. Obama took his case to the country and that the administration was “glad” Republicans backed off their opposition.

“We know what their position was,” Carney said. “We are glad they changed it. And they changed it in large part because the president took his argument out to the country and they felt that pressure.”

“The president was arguing on behalf of a policy that he believes is essential,” Carney added. “He was calling on Congress and will continue to call on congress to act to fix a problem that if not fixed will negatively affect millions of students across the country. And he’ll continue to do that as part of his job. It’s an important part of his job.”

The communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, took to Twitter Thursday to blast Boehner.

“Let’s be clear: John Boehner is the most useless, feckless, weak and failed Speaker of the House perhaps in American history,” Woodhouse wrote.

The relationship between President Obama and Boehner had cooled since last summer’s breakdown of their “grand bargain” deficit reduction negotiations, but the latest attack by Boehner marks a new, more biting approach. His ramped up criticism is further proof that from this point going forward, the framing of nearly every issue on Capitol Hill will occur through the lens of the campaign.

FOREIGN POLICY FIGHT

The Obama re-election team released a web video Friday that questions whether Romney would have ordered the raid inside Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.

The 90-second video relies heavily on comments from former President Bill Clinton, who declares the president “took the harder and more honorable path.”

You can watch the clip here or below:

The video also highlights comments Romney made during his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination: “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.”

The clip closes with this comment from Clinton: “He had to decide and that’s what you hire a president to do. You hire the president to make the calls when no one else can do it.”

The release of the video comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death next week and a day after Vice President Joe Biden took aim at Romney’s foreign policy credentials in a New York City speech.

Biden accused Romney of lacking foreign policy experience and said the former governor had been dishonest in his attacks of the president’s record.

“The governor is falling back on one of his party’s favorite tricks of late — distort and mischaracterize your opponent’s position, keep repeating the distortions and mischaracterizations over and over again even when every objective observer says you’re wrong, keep repeating in the hope that it will eventually stick,” Biden said.

In a conference call organized by the Romney campaign in advance of the vice president’s speech, John Lehman, a former Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, charged the president with a “gross abdication of leadership.”

“The Obama administration, in a very studied and intentional way, is withdrawing from leading the free world and maintaining stability around the world — what Obama calls leading from behind. But the reality is it’s opening up huge new vulnerabilities,” Lehman added.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner and Scott Wilson write about the Obama team’s push for another voting group: military families.

  • Four months to the Democratic convention in Charlotte, and organizers have met about half of their $37 million fundraising goal. The Democrats look to unions as donors, while the Republicans have met their goal with the help of corporate donors.

  • Newt Gingrich’s campaign swan song, by Mark Leibovich. “On Thursday, he cared about cars.”

  • A Gallup survey released Thursday found that while President Obama enjoys a 64 percent to 29 percent advantage over Romney among those aged 18 to 29, only six in 10 young voters are registered to vote, and just 56 percent of them say they will definitely vote this fall.

  • The conservative group Americans for Prosperity announced Thursday it will launch a $6.1 million ad campaign attacking the president for using stimulus dollars to fund overseas projects. The spot, called “Wasteful Spending,” will air over the next two weeks in eight states.

  • The Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News names the individuals who lead donations to super PACS.

  • Yahoo! News’ David Chalian — a Morning Line alumnus — identifies the 100 electoral votes that will decide the 2012 presidential election.

  • Karl Rove offered this analysis of the 2012 electoral map Thursday, giving the president an early advantage over Romney.

  • The GOP polling group Resurgent Republic released the findings from its latest focus group involving blue collar Catholics in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

  • The Iowa Republican’s Craig Robinson calls for ending the Ames Straw Poll to preserve the Hawkeye State’s first-in-the-nation caucus status.

  • Gwen Ifill took a range of viewers’ question in a live chat Thursday. And yes, she still refuses to get dragged into Romney veep speculation.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., at 12:35 p.m. and attends a pair of evening fundraisers in Washington, D.C.

  • Vice President Biden attends a Washington, D.C., fundraiser of his own at 9 a.m.

  • Mitt Romney visits Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, holding a roundtable with students at 2 p.m. and delivering remarks at 3:05 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich holds a series of events in North Carolina.

  • Ron Paul holds a town hall in Houston at 8 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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