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Boehner defends himself: 'It does pain me to be described as spineless or a squish

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lashed out at his conservative critics on Thursday, and said he is unfairly being painted as part of the problem in Washington when he has brought conservative principles and transparency back to Congress.

"During my years here, when I voted, I had the eighth most conservative voting record in the Congress," he told reporters. "It does pain me to be described as spineless or a squish."

"What pains me the most is when they describe me as the establishment," he added. "I'm the most anti-establishment speaker we've ever had."

Boehner spoke just two days after 25 Republicans voted for someone other than Boehner for House Speaker, a huge show of frustration over his leadership of the House in the last few years. Many Republicans were angry about having to quickly pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill in December after being given no time to read it, and also because the bill failed to attack President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.

While GOP leaders have occasionally rushed through key votes, Boehner defended his record as one that gives more people a chance to participate in the passage of legislation, and noted that he also spearheaded the effort to eliminate congressional earmarks.

"Who was the guy who got rid of earmarks? Me," he said. "Who's the guy who believes in regular order? Me. Who believes in allowing more members to participate in the process from both sides of the aisle? Me."

Boehner also said some of the frustration with his leadership comes from broad frustration with the economy, and said both he and Obama have taken some of blame.

"The America people are very frustrated," he said. "They're frustrated in a struggling economy, they're frustrated that they don't think Washington's listening, and they want action."

"This frustration that's out there, they need to take it out on somebody. They take it out on the president, take it out on me, and it comes with the territory," he said.

At the same time, Boehner acknowledged he has some work to do to convince GOP members he's the right guy to lead the House.

"I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin, and I'm going to do my best to show all of our members, Democrats and Republicans, and those members who voted against me, that I'm up to the job that I was given," he said.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's vote for House Speaker, many Republicans have criticized Boehner for considering the removal of two Republicans from the House Rules Committee because they voted against him.

Boehner said on Wednesday that Republicans would have a "family meeting" that would decide whether Reps. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) would stay on the committee. On Thursday, Boehner said he has not yet made any final decisions.

Some Republicans defended Boehner after Tuesday's vote. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who voted against Boehner in 2013, said the effort to unseat Boehner was too unorganized and doomed to fail from the start.

One last thing…
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