House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is apparently seeking to ease the fallout after a report unearthed his remarkably candid take on Mitt Romney.
At a June 30 fundraiser in West Virginia, Boehner said Americans “probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney,” according to Roll Call. Apart from the Republican nominee’s “friends, relatives and fellow Mormons,” his support will largely be driven by opposition to President Obama, Boehner said.
According to the paper, a woman had asked Boehner during a question and answer session, “Can you make me love Mitt Romney?”
His response: “No. Listen, we’re just politicians. I wasn’t elected to play God. The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama. … Mitt Romney has some friends, relatives and fellow Mormons … some people that are going to vote for him. …”
The comments received plenty of notice in the media, feeding various narratives about Romney’s alleged inability to connect with voters and the lack of excitement behind the candidate himself. It appears Boehner didn’t want to leave the impression that there’s a discord between the nation’s top-ranked Republican and the party’s presidential nominee.
On Sunday morning The Hill published an article in which a Boehner source talked up the Republican nominee and the strengthening “bond” between him and the Speaker.
“From Boehner’s perspective — there’s a lot of comfort there, and he feels good about [Romney] and a lot of collegiality and has become pretty close to the operation of the governor,” a source close to Boehner told the paper.
Speaking with Republican operatives, the Hill article reported that “the relationship between Boehner and Romney has evolved into one of deep respect and behind-the-scenes communication.”
RNC chair Reince Priebus defended Boehner on “Fox News Sunday,” declaring the election “a referendum on Barack Obama.” Republican Party stalwart Haley Barbour, also asked Sunday about the Speaker’s remarks, sought to downplay them.
“I think a lot of people who know Mitt Romney will really, really like him — fond of him, think he’s an enormously generous guy,” Barbour said. “There’s a lot to love about Mitt Romney. But the election still is going to be a referendum on Obama’s policies and the results of those policies, which are pretty poor.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.