Boehner says U.S. voters are to blame for modern-day GOP
▶ Watch Video: Former House Speaker John Boehner talks refuting conspiracy theories in the GOP
John Boehner is not to blame for the state of today’s Republican Party, he says.
The former House speaker rose to his leadership position on a wave of Tea Party support in 2011 before resigning in 2015, and has been accused of opening the door to a new era of GOP extremism.
But the Ohio Republican claims it was the voters’ fault, not his.
“The American people opened the door. Those who showed up and voted in Republican primaries opened up the door and elected some, frankly, pretty radically people,” Boehner said Monday on CBSN. “Over the years, that part of the party continued to grow.”
Boehner, who retired from office in 2015, still styles himself a “traditional Republican,” citing his views on fiscal and foreign policy.
In his new memoir “On the House,” he claims the Republican Party had been corrupted by far-right lawmakers he called “political terrorists” who he also blamed for the “revolting” Capitol riots on January 6.
“Some in the party these days seem to think that making noise is more important than governing,” he said on CBSN.
During his tenure as speaker, Boehner sought to block or repeal some now-landmark policies of the Obama administration such as the Iran nuclear deal and Affordable Care Act. His failure to do resulted in intense criticism from the GOP’s Freedom Caucus.
However, his failure to come out strongly against some of his party’s more outrageous claims were also heavily panned.
During a 2011 appearance on “Meet the Press,” Boehner avoided criticizing the debunked claim President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
“It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think,” he said while also adding that confirmation of Mr. Obama’s birthplace from the state of Hawaii was “good enough for me.”
Nearly a decade later, he is defending his rhetoric, claiming he did “the responsible thing.”
“My job is to be straight up with people, honest to people and let them draw their own conclusions. I can’t go out there and refute every conspiracy theory there is,” Boehner said.
“I couldn’t have done more.”
Asked about what appealed to voters about President Donald Trump, whom he criticized heavily in his book, Boehner said Trump’s economic policies were “very well received.”
“I think a lot of his policies were traditional, Republican policies — certainly not all of them,” he said.
Boehner did not think those policies were enough to give Mr. Trump a fighting chance against his former congressional colleague and friend, current President Joe Biden.
“I was surprised it was as close as it was,” he said. “How he got that many votes — Donald Trump — I don’t know.”