Speaker John Boehner’s office told The Daily Caller that the Republican House speaker is not a moderate.
“It’s not a ‘new’ focus. Boehner has always been very conservative – pro-life, anti-earmark, strong on defense,” Boehner press secretary Michael Steel told The Daily Caller. “His career ratings from virtually every conservative organization are very high. His public mien may be moderate, but his record certainly is not.”
Team Boehner has launched an apparent campaign to portray the speaker as a conservative after Reps. Daniel Webster and Louie Gohmert launched a challenge to his speakership a week ago. Conservatives feel that Boehner has surrendered to President Obama on major issues ranging from budget bills to immigration. (RELATED: 25 Republicans Rebel Against Boehner).
People close to Boehner are said to be considering retribution for the Republicans who voted against him, even as his messaging efforts and public statements focus on his supposedly conservative pre-speakership record.
Boehner entered the House after the 1990 midterms as part of “The Gang of Seven” criticizing the House banking scandal alongside Rick Santorum.
Boehner rose quickly in the party when he signed Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America in 1994. But when Gingrich left the speakership after the 1998 midterms, Boehner lost his leadership position as Republican House Conference chairman to J.C. Watts. The event was a turning point in the tone of his political career. During the moderate years of the Bush administration Boehner slowly re-gained standing in the caucus, working hand-in-hand with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy to pass Bush’s No Child Left Behind school reform effort — a legislative eyesore to many conservatives.
Boehner’s repeated compromises on the debt ceiling turned the tide of conservative opinion against him soon after he became speaker in the 2010 elections. As he heads into what could likely be his last two years as speaker, he seems to be asking his conservative colleagues: can I ever get that reputation back?
Boehner communications adviser Matt Wolking recently posted to Facebook the information that Boehner ranked as having the eighth most conservative voting record in Congress according to National Journal in 2010. “(Speakers of the House typically do not vote, so that’s basically the last year available)” Wolking said. Wolking, a former executive producer of the staunchly anti-amnesty Laura Ingraham radio show, joined the Boehner team in April.
On Wednesday the House is expected to approve an immigration bill that would cancel Obama’s limit on deportations and reverse some of the amnesties for unaccompanied immigrant minors. Boehner supports the new blocks but congressional Republicans don’t have veto power and it is unlikely that the legislation would do anything.
J.D. Winteregg, the conservative who lost his Cedarville University teaching job while running against Boehner in a 2014 Republican primary in Ohio’s eighth district, isn’t buying Boehner’s new conservative, uh, non-transformation. (RELATED: Winteregg Fired For Running Erectile Dysfunction-Themed Anti-Boehner Ad).
Winteregg, who now works at a grain elevator while also teaching at a different school, is considering running against Boehner again in 2016 in the recently redrawn eighth district.
“He runs a lot on his past, his past twentysomething years ago. Once he got into leadership, it doesn’t matter how many bills he votes to repeal, the matter is the one he got through to fund it,” Winteregg said, referring to Obamacare and Obama’s amnesty executive orders. “It’s always the same song and dance, he’ll come out and talk tough and say he’s a conservative but then he’ll do the opposite of what he said he’s going to do. He’s afraid of what the media will paint him as. He’s scared of losing the power he has.”
Miles outside the Beltway, Boehner’s treatment of the tea party in his home state has earned resentment from conservatives.
When Winteregg spoke at a Butler County endorsement meeting during the primary race, Boehner sent a neighboring mayor to the event and another Boehner supporter in the crowd yelled that the candidates were in “Boehner’s house.” When Cincinnati Tea Party president Ann Becker ran for the Republican Party’s Central Committee race in her county, Boehner’s people made sure Beckham’s bid got squashed, and Boehner posed for a photo with Beckham’s opponent on primary day. And the Cincinnati-based company Procter & Gamble, long an Ohio economic bedrock in which Boehner owns stock, continues to sell its Ohio work sites to cut costs as Boehner stands by and watches.
Regardless of the in-fighting that surrounds him in Washington and his district, Boehner is the Republican House leader for at least the next two years. Two years that will be more important, due to his power and the political urgency of the movement, than Boehner’s prior twenty-five combined.