House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the moderate Ripon Society Tuesday that President Obama's goal is to "annihilate the Republican Party."
The Republican leader argued that Obama's ambitious second-term agenda could not be enacted unless Republicans suffer serious losses in the next mid-term elections.
"[G]iven what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me and should be clear to all of you that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans," Boehner said. "So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me tell you, I do believe that is their goal. To just shove us in the dustbin of history."
Republicans will need to defend themselves in a "very hostile environment," Boehner said, by thinking strategically about when and how to confront the president.
"Where’s the ground that we fight on? Where’s the ground that we retreat on? Where are the smart fights? Where are the dumb fights that we have to stay away from?" he asked. "We've got a lot of big decisions to make."
His caucus just ducked a fight with President Obama and Democrats by suspending the debt limit for three months. But hours before that vote, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters that the House GOP was still prepared to shut down the government if Democrats do not agree to new spending cuts.
Obama will have to confront the polarization on Capitol Hill in attempting to move forward with deficit reduction, immigration reform, climate change legislation and gun control. Boehner's comments suggest that Obama should not expect much support from his caucus in achieving those goals.
The speech was closed to press, but video and a transcript were put online. The comments come at about 9:55 in the above video.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in 2010 that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." (Democrats often inaccurately say that McConnell voiced that goal as soon as the president took office).