TAMPA, Fla. — The presidential campaign may have temporarily become a debate over abortion and race, but House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans have a trump card for any and all concerns about such issues: the economy.
“There’s always going to be a lot of issues and distractions,” Boehner said at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon in Tampa, Fla., Monday. “But this election is going to be about the economy and jobs.”
Boehner waved off the Todd Akin firestorm and the possibility that the GOP has been thrown off its game by being forced to respond to the congressman’s “legitimate rape” meltdown and subsequent internal conflicts with social conservatives. The real issue? The economy.
“This is another distraction,” he said. “The American people aren’t asking the question ‘Who is Todd Akin?’ they’re asking the question, ‘Where are the jobs?’”
On whether Akin might be partially responsible for the party’s disproportionately low standing with women in the polls, Boehner suggested the GOP may be suffering from “the concerted effort by our friends on the Democratic side who declared this ‘War on Women.’” But the GOP had a chance to win them back, Boehner said. Why? Because “their No. 1 concern is the economy.”
“We’ve had a gender gap among men on our side for a long time,” he said. “But the issue is the economy.”
What about those Latino and African American voters that polls show voting against the GOP by record margins? Republican have found a great way to “recruit” more of them than usual — or at least keep them away from the polls. It’s called the economy.
“This election is about economics,” Boehner said. “These groups have been hit the hardest. They may not show up and vote for our candidate but I’d suggest to you they won’t show up and vote for the president either.”
As for the candidate on the top of the ticket, Boehner said that suggestions by some — including himself — that Romney may not be the most likable guy in the race, weren’t important. After all, there’s the economy.
“Theres one issue in this campaign, one,” Boehner said. “The president’s economic policies have failed. They’ve made things worse.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.