As the midterm congressional campaign heats up, Democrats are increasingly trying to paint House Minority Leader John Boehner as the face of the Republican Party. They are hoping to draw attention to what the New York Times reports Saturday
is his "especially deep" ties to a wide network of lobbyists who often call on his office for help and, in return, lend support to his legislative strategies and fundraising for the party.
Among the network of lobbyists who Boehner has cultivated and who have cultivated him, the Times says that there is a inner circle especially close to the minority leader who have earned the nickname "Boehner Land." The newspaper says this group's ties with Boehner "translates into open access to him and his staff."
Boehner's allies in the lobbying world dismiss Democratic criticism of him as "desperate" and "politically motivated," The Times said. The lobbyists say their associations with Boehner "simply reflect the pro-business, anti-regulatory philosophy he has espoused for three decades."
President Obama singled out Boehner eight times in a speech this week in Ohio, although he mostly zeroed in Boehner for his unyielding opposition to all the Democrats' initiatives.
The Los Angeles Times
quoted a senior White House aide as saying, "You need a device if you're going to have a debate, because you can't have a debate against a vacuum. Boehner provided an opportunity for that."
But if Democrats hope to make Boehner a visible symbol of what they say is wrong with the Republicans as the GOP has done with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they have a long way to go.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll
this week found that 51 percent of Americans viewed Pelosi unfavorably compared to 33 percent who regarded her favorably, with 16 percent not sure. But only 45 percent of Americans have an opinion about Boehner (22 percent favorable, 23 percent unfavorable) and the rest don't know enough about him to express a view.