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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.
The fundraiser to benefit the Boehner for Speaker campaign committee was originally scheduled to be held in St. Clairsville, Ohio, but was moved to an arena in nearby West Virginia because of power outages from derecho storms the previous weekend.
Robert Murray, CEO of the Murray Energy Corp., hosted the event.
Boehner also hosted a June 29 fundraiser at Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s home in Charleston, W.Va., according to the Charleston Gazette.
Also over the recess break, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was scheduled to be a special guest at a fundraiser for Romney Sunday in the Hamptons, N.Y.
An invitation for the lunch event published by the Sunlight Foundation requested $25,000 per person for a VIP photo reception and $5,000 to gain entry to just the lunch.
House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) was in Russia on a Congressional delegation trip.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office said the California Democrat was with her family and declined to provide any details about her schedule.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer attended a Tuesday party to celebrate the holiday at the Herrington Harbour South Marina in Anne Arundel County, Md., and came to Washington, D.C., for the Fourth of July.
The Maryland Democrat traveled to Rhode Island on Friday, where he was scheduled to attend events with Democratic Reps. James Langevin and David Cicilline.
Boehner also released a video message for the Fourth of July, filmed in the Capitol Rotunda with patriotic music in the background.
“From our earliest days, Americans have marked the Fourth of July as the ‘great anniversary celebration,’ as John Adams predicted it would be. We raise Old Glory, march down Main Street, and light up the skies — our pride front and center, like [John] Hancock’s signature itself,” Boehner said.
In actuality, Adams believed July 2, the day the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution of independence from Great Britain, would be the anniversary celebration marked by generations.
In a letter to his wife, Abigail, the future president wrote: “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”
July 4 is the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.