WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama seems to be in denial about the full meaning of congressional elections in which Republicans made big gains, Republican leader John Boehner said on Thursday.
Boehner is likely to become speaker of the House of Representatives after Republicans routed Democrats in Tuesday’s elections and picked up at least 60 seats, the biggest shift in power in decades.
“There seems to be some denial on the part of the president and other Democratic leaders of the message that was sent by the American people,” Boehner told ABC News.
“When you have the most historic election in over 60, 70 years, you would think the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies they’ve put forward in the last few years,” he said.
Obama said on Wednesday that the election results were a reflection of frustration by Americans at the sour economy and an appeal for the two parties to work together.
Boehner appeared to take issue with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Republicans’ top goal should be ensuring Obama is a one-term president.
“That’s Senator McConnell’s statement and his opinion,” Boehner said. “I think the American people want us to focus on their message during the election: stop the spending, get rid of the uncertainty. Let’s get around to creating jobs again and staying focused on what the American people want us to focus on is my number one priority.”
ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer asked Boehner if he would agree to what Obama has jokingly called a “Slurpee summit.”
A Slurpee is a flavored ice drink that Obama famously referred to on the campaign trail by saying Republicans were standing by idly sipping them while Democrats struggled to get the economy going.
“I don’t know about a Slurpee. How about a glass of merlot?” Boehner replied.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Walsh