Boehner sets negative tone in opening convention speech

Updated
By Jordan Michael Smith

House Speaker John Boehner opened the Republican National Convention’s round of major addresses on Tuesday night by attacking Barack Obama and, to a lesser extent, praising Mitt Romney. It was a fitting contribution to a campaign that has focused far more on the president’s weaknesses than on its nominee’s strengths.

President Obama, Boehner said, “can’t fix the economy because he doesn’t know how it was built.” Improving America “starts with throwing out the politician who doesn’t get it.”

Boehner said he used to work at his father’s bar, and if a patron had come in and said some of the things Obama said, he would have been ejected from the premises. “Let’s say some guy walked into our bar full of guys looking for work, having a tough go of it, and the guy says, ‘well you know, the private sector is doing fine,’” Boehner offered. “You know what we’d do? That’s right: we’d throw him out!” He repeated this formulation several times.

But Boehner also had some kind words for Mitt Romney, who was formally nominated earlier that day. “Mitt Romney comes from a family of builders,” he said. “His father built houses, built businesses, built industry. George Romney was a can-do kind of guy.”

Though that may be true, George Romney’s son shares little of his father’s political philosophy. George Romney was the quintessential liberal Republican—an extinct breed of Republicans who were pro-business but moderate on social issues and foreign policy. He appealed to unions, and supported the African-American Civil Rights movement.

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus took a more positive tone in the address following Boehner’s, saying, “Governor Romney has a record of tremendous accomplishments. But he never asks for accolades. He just asks, ‘How can I help?’ That’s the mark of a true leader: A humble focus on getting the job done.”

However, Priebus also added that Obama had left America “living on borrowed time.”

John Boehner

Boehner sets negative tone in opening convention speech

Updated