Boehner: Republicans need to be a "bit more sensitive" to women

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, answers questions during his weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol December 5, 2013 in Washington, D.C. 
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Some members of the Republican Party "just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be" when it comes to running against female candidates or appealing to women voters, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday.

The remarks came following a report that Boehner's staff and the House GOP's campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), have been hosting meetings to train Republican members how to address female constituents and opponents. Last year, Republicans suffered politically after some members made comments offensive to women (such as Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's reference to "legitimate rape").

CBS News' Nancy Cordes on Thursday asked Boehner what advice he had for Republican members on the issue.

"I try to get them to be a little bit more sensitive," he said. "You look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democrat caucus than there are in the Republican caucus, and you know, some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be."

Boehner said he thinks his party is making progress on the issue, but Democrats were quick to attack the speaker's remarks as the latest evidence that the GOP is still clueless.

"Women don't need Republicans to patronize, condescend or be delicate about their feelings, they need them to represent the values important to them and their families," Lily Adams, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said in a statement. "No softer language learned in media training will convince women that the party that opposes equal pay, pledges to defund Planned Parenthood and proposes bans on their health care choices is the one looking out for their best interests."

White House spokesman Jay Carney similarly said the GOP's problem didn't come down to language. "The problem that Republicans have had with women isn't about language, it's about policies," he said. "One way that they could support women today is to vote to raise the minimum wage because women disproportionately benefit from increases in the minimum wage."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the fact that the GOP was holding tutorials to teach its members to communicate with women is "really strange, especially if you're a woman."

She added, "They've made an art of running against women in ways we think are inappropriate, so it'll be interesting to see what they have in their curriculum."

Meanwhile, responding to questions about the Republican Party's support for openly gay candidates, Boehner said he would support the GOP's official financial support for such candidates in 2014. There are currently two openly gay, viable Republican House candidates -- Richard Tisei, who is running in Massachusetts, and Carl DeMaio, who is running in Southern California.