By now, Republican laments that presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is not the most inspiring figure to ever run for president are well-known.
“The Republican bench had several candidates stronger than Romney, but they chose not to run,” conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer recently wrote.
Romney took a relatively long time to conquer his rivals in the GOP primary, and some Republicans have recently expressed concern about the state of the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign against President Barack Obama.
But at a June 30 fundraiser in Wheeling, W.Va., Speaker John Boehner offered a surprisingly frank assessment of the dynamic that surprised some in the audience.
Aside from Romney’s “friends, relatives and fellow Mormons,” Boehner said, most people will be motivated to vote for him in opposition to Obama.
The Ohio Republican made the remarks when an unidentified woman asked during a question-and-answer session: “Can you make me love Mitt Romney?”
“No,” Boehner said. “Listen, we’re just politicians. I wasn’t elected to play God. The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama.
“Mitt Romney has some friends, relatives and fellow Mormons ... some people that are going to vote for him. But that’s not what this election is about. This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies.
“Mitt Romney believes, just like we do, that if we’re going to get the economy back, if we’re going to put the American people back to work, we need to fix the tax code, we need to stop the regulatory juggernaut that’s going on in Washington and we need to fix our economy. Solid guy, he’s going to do a great job, even if you don’t fall in love with him.”
In contrast to Romney, Obama’s 2008 victory was boosted by the enthusiastic devotion of his followers.
Since then, he has faced complaints from the left and the poor economy has dampened enthusiasm among young voters.
In moves widely perceived to be aimed at revving up the base, Obama has taken several executive actions, such as his recent announcement that his administration would cease deporting some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country when they were young and have stayed out of trouble. That move, for instance, could boost his support among Hispanics.
Boehner’s political office provided the quote after being contacted by Roll Call about somewhat different versions relayed by people in the audience of 200 to 300.