House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) drew sharp criticism Friday for poking fun at Republicans who oppose recent efforts to tackle immigration reform.
“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh! Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh! This is too hard,” Boehner said theatrically, wincing and pulling a funny face during a speech Thursday at the Middletown Rotary Club in Ohio.
“We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to … . They’ll take the path of least resistance,” he added.
But not everyone was amused with Boehner’s jabs.
“This of Boehner is shameful. Instead of leading, he’s become the poster child for whiny Republican cry-babies,” former CEO and Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain said in a tweet.
“If only he was as tough on Obama,” conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said in a tweet of her own.
Conservative author Michelle Malkin added: “#fireboehner.”
Boehner said during his address that he has tried for 16 months to get Congress to act on immigration reform.
“I’ve had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn’t say it was going to be easy,” he said.
The House speaker’s mocking could signal that he has become comfortable distancing himself from the more inflexible wing of the Republican Party, Bloomberg Businessweek observed.
“Boehner doesn’t seem very concerned about trying to win over Republican detractors who are aiming to unseat him,” the report said. “Since October, when conservatives forced an unpopular partial shutdown of the federal government, he’s stopped disguising his disdain for Tea Party groups and their tactics, calculating that enough other Republicans are fed up, too.”
The House speaker maintains that his disagreement is not with the Tea Party, but with groups that raise money by posing as the Tea Party.
“I don’t have any issue with the Tea Party. I have issues with organizations in Washington who raise money purporting to represent the Tea Party … There are organizations in Washington that exist for the sheer purpose of raising money to line their own pockets,” Boehner said.
“I made it pretty clear I’ll stand with the Tea Party but I’m not standing with these three or four groups in Washington who are using the Tea Party for their own personal benefit,” he added.
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This post has been updated.