Boehner Says House GOP Not Shifting to the Right; Other Leaders Disagree
November 19, 2008 - 6:40 PMHouse Republicans are not shifting to the political right, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told CNSNews.com on Wednesday, just hours after two of the top three GOP leadership spots were won by conservative lawmakers in an internal leadership election.
Members Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and John Mica (R-Fla.), however, told CNSNews.com that they think the conference is shifting to the political right.
But Boehner said, “No, I don’t think it’s right or left. It’s what are the issues Americans are concerned about, and how do we build solutions on our principles? It’s not left or right.
“That’s minimizing and marginalizing the situation,” Boehner told CNSNews.com when asked if he saw a trend towards conservatism in his conference. “I think our members are trying to avoid that.”
Boehner spoke to CNSNews.com after a press conference announcing his reelection to the top House Republican post.
But Pence, who was unanimously voted in as the Republican Conference Chairman on Wednesday, told CNSNews.com that conservatism is the current trend among House Republicans.
“What I saw today in the Republican conference was an affirmation that the way back for the Republican Party is a return to timeless principles,” Pence told CNSNews.com. “My unanimous selection was not so much an affirmation of me as a person, but my conservative principles.”
Both Mica and Flake also told CNSNews.com that the conference is experiencing a shift towards the right.
“Sure,” Flake told CNSNews.com when asked if there had been a shift. “Fiscal conservatives have more of a voice here now.”
But Both Mica and Flake noted that though the conservative voice has grown in strength in the aftermath of the Nov. 4 elections, conservatives likely would not have been able to replace Boehner as House Minority leader with one of their own.
“We [conservatives] could certainly have mounted a more formidable challenge” towards Boehner, Flake told CNSNews.com. “But I don’t know that it would have been enough. We thought we mounted a pretty good challenge last time, and we got socked.”
“I don’t think conservatives would have had the votes,” said Mica.
In a statement about his election as chairman of the House Republican Conference, Pence said:
“I will be loyal to the Cause of returning our party to the ideals of Lincoln and Reagan, the ideals that most Republican voters embrace—defending our nation, our treasury and our values with everything we’ve got. ...
“And I’m going to be loyal to the Cause of returning a Republican Majority to Capitol Hill in 2010 .... We all have a duty to be the loyal opposition, to support the Administration when we can and to vigorously oppose every time they try to keep the promises they made to the American left.
“And if we do this, if we will be that loyal opposition … the American people will soon tire of the flowery speeches and see the Democratic agenda for what it is—the failed ideas of the Great Society and the New Deal.
“And they will come looking for the alternative. And that alternative will be a renewed Republican Party that combines time-tested conservative principles with a positive plan for the future."