A day after President Obama'sinaugural address, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, warned that the president wants to "annihilate" the Republican Party.
"We're expecting here, over the next 22 months, to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party," Boehner said Tuesday at a private luncheon hosted by The Ripon Society, a centrist Republican think tank. "And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal - to just shove us into the dustbin of history."
Boehner lamented the fact that the president's agenda is so out of line with the Republican agenda, recalling a moment when Mr. Obama told him that health care was a larger problem than government spending. "It gives you some idea of the challenge that we're facing," the speaker said.
Boehner noted that as he's tried to work with the president, keeping the trust of the House Republican Conference has been just as challenging.
"The last two years... they've been pretty rough," he said. "Going back to the spring of 2011, the summer of 2011, me sitting down with the president -- you have no idea the suspicions and the undercurrents that it caused, frankly, a lot of my members."
The speaker said that as the GOP pursues an agenda of fiscal responsibility, tax reform and economic growth, "We're going to be doing it in an environment that is going to be far [more] hostile than anything that I think we've seen for a long, long time. And we're going to have to make some big decisions about how we as a party take on this challenge. Where's the ground that we fight on? Where's the ground that we retreat on?"
Aside from fiscal issues, Boehner said it's time to address immigration reform, noting that a group of bipartisan lawmakers have been working for three or four years on the issue. "You're likely to hear a lot more on immigration reform soon," he said.
On gun control, however, Boehner was more pessimistic. He said the executive actions that the Obama administration recently outlined amounted to "political pandering," while passing an assault weapons ban would give people "a false sense of security."