House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a 60 Minutes interview aired Sunday, dismissed the Tea Party movement to fire him from the top House spot as he argued his voting record “is as conservative as anybody here.”
“The issue with the Tea Party isn’t one of strategy. It’s not one of different vision. It’s a disagreement over tactics, from time to time,” Boehner said. “Frankly, a lot is being driven by national groups here in Washington who have raised money and just beating the dickens out of me.”
“Beating the dickens out of me….Well you know, because it works. They raise money, put it in their pocket, and pay themselves big salaries.”
The Washington Post reported last year that an analysis found little of the money raised by Tea Party groups has gone to support candidates.
The speaker said that there’s just one Republican Party.
“And we continue to work to bring those members along, and they bring ’em along,” Boehner added of the Tea Party-aligned lawmakers. “And, uh…but it’s always a work in progress.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), seated alongside Boehner, said Republicans and Democrats are “not divided on our love for, and support for the country.”
“We have very different views, as Adams and Jefferson did, about what America ought to be like. And we resolve that through the democratic process,” McConnell said. “And so I would not view with alarm the fact that there are robust debates going on in Congress over the future of this country.”
Boehner said there are conversations between GOP leadership and President Obama. “Listen, the president and I talk and I know Mitch talks to the president. And we had a meeting at the White House last week. It was all very cordial. It was all very straightforward,” he said. “I don’t think, I don’t think that’s the issue. You know, the president could have, with the State of the Union, just put out an olive branch, could’ve taken just a little bit different tone that would’ve indicated to us that there’s some interest in working with us. I can tell ya, we’re interested in working with him.”
McConnell said the State of the Union sounded like Obama “was running for a third term.”
“He seemed to have– completely forgotten or chose to ignore– the election last November. He was looking out at an audience that had 80 more Republicans in it than his first State of the Union,” he said.
Boehner said he just stared at the back of Obama’s head during the speech.
“And my goal is to make no news. This is the president’s night and so I sit there and try to make no news,” he said. “Although, inside, I’ve got a lotta things rollin’ through my mind.”