Boehner says Obama 'checked out' last Labor Day

By Laurie Kellman

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 18 2012 12:05 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this March 29, 2012 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio takes questions during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner says President Barack Obama "checked out" last Labor Day and has been campaigning ever since. Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference Wednesday that Obama is shrinking from his responsibility to lead and doesn't have the courage to tackle the problems that face the nation.

J. Scott Applewhite, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that President Barack Obama "checked out" last Labor Day and has been running for reelection, rather than governing, ever since.

"He's spent the last six months campaigning from one end of the country to the other, instead of working with members of both political parties here in Washington to address the serious challenges that our country faces. He's shrinking from his responsibility to lead, and not having any courage to help tackle these problems," the Ohio Republican told reporters at his weekly news conference.

Boehner's tough talk came a day after he and his Senate counterpart, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, endorsed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and signaled to the GOP that the time had come to unite behind the former Massachusetts governor. But Boehner suggested Wednesday that any party unity remains fragile less than seven months before the Nov. 6 presidential and congressional elections.

Did he have any advice for Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul, who are still in the GOP presidential race?

"No," the speaker replied, calling on the next questioner.

Moving on has been the party's theme ever since Romney's primary rival, former Sen. Rick Santorum, formally ended his long-shot bid last week. Santorum since has declined several opportunities to endorse Romney and rally conservatives to the presumptive nominee's campaign. In a telephone call with supporters on Monday, Santorum said he'll make that decision in the next two weeks.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, were readying their message for a general election that all sides believe will turn on the economic recovery.

Boehner, who will chair the Republican National Convention in late August, complained that Obama's White House issues veto threats without discussion on such matters as the Keystone XL pipeline and small business tax cuts. The House is voting on both this week in efforts, majority Republicans say, to kindle job creation.

"There's no conversation, there's no engagement," from the White House, Boehner said. "All we're left with is moving our own ideas through the regular order and through the regular process here in Congress."

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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