Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) turned down an offer by President Barack Obama to travel on Air Force One to Arizona for a memorial service on behalf of the victims of Saturday’s shooting, a decision that has upset some Democrats.
Senior Democrats – who to date had been impressed with Boehner’s response to the Arizona tragedy – expressed surprise at what they saw as an unmistakable misstep by the new speaker: appearing at a partisan political event on the same night as the the president, first lady Michelle Obama, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Arizona congressional delegation come together at the memorial service for the victims of an attack that nearly took the life of a member of the House. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was critically wounded in Saturday’s attack, while six other people died and a dozen more were wounded.
“It is disrespectful for Speaker Boehner to skip joining the President’s and bipartisan congressional delegation to the Tucson Memorial so he could host a Washington D.C. cocktail party for RNC members,” said a Democratic leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity
And, Boehner would have been criticised if he had gone – probably by the same Democrat operatives.
The Maria Cino RNC event was planned anyway and Speaker Boehner could not have made Air Force One, the flight and attend the Capitol Prayer Service.
The Boehner staffers also insisted that, as speaker, Boehner’s place is on Capitol Hill, not in Tucson. They noted that Boehner had opened an hours-long tribute on the House floor Wednesday to Giffords and the other shooting victims and attended a bipartisan prayer service afterward. Because Air Force One left at 1 p.m., Boehner couldn’t have flown to Arizona and also attended the Capitol prayer service.
But, nice try by the Democrats to paint Boehner as an unfeeling MORON who intentionally disrespects the President and slights the Tucson shooting victims, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.