According to the New York Daily News, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, opted to attend an inside-the-beltway Republican National Committee cocktail party rather than accept an invitation from President Obama to fly on Air Force One to attend Wednesday evening's memorial rally for the victims of last Saturday's shooting.
Does this really sound plausible?
Not really, yet many liberal Democrats were criticizing Boehner Thursday for "skipping out" on Wednesday's memorial service to host a "cocktail party" for the RNC.
"It is disrespectful for Speaker Boehner to skip joining the President's and bipartisan congressional delegation to the Tucson Memorial so he could host a Washington D.C. cocktail party for RNC members," a Democratic leadership aide told Politico.
In actuality, the House of Representatives held a vigil for the victims of Saturday's shootings on Wednesday. With Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi en route to Arizona with President Barack Obama, Boehner opted to stay in Washington to attend the House vigil. If Boehner had accepted President Obama's invitation, then leaders of both parties would have missed the Wednesday vigil, liberal blog site Talking Points Memo notes.
Presented with this recollection of events, Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel confirmed, and defended his boss. "Boehner would not have been able to attend the bipartisan prayer service if he'd gone to Tucson," he said. "Yesterday, Rep. Giffords' colleagues on both sides of the aisle honored her and mourned those who were lost. The Speaker felt his place was here in the House, with them."
Additionally, Boehner's office corrected rumors being floated around the blogosphere about the Speaker's "cocktail party" attendance. According Boehner's office, the Republican leader spoke at the RNC event for just three minutes before departing to watch President Obama's speech on television.
A number of liberal talking heads noticed Boehner's absence Wednesday evening and proceeded to pile on unfair attacks and mischaracterizations. But to their credit, TPM notes that the "narrative taking hold -- that Boehner rejected a ride on Air Force One in order to attend an RNC event -- is more complicated than the soundbites."
Politico's assistant managing editor Jeanne Cummings appeared on MSNBC earlier today to try and dispel the rumors: