Jewish Dems Pounce on Boehner for Decision to Appear with Rich Iott


Democrats probably haven't said a single nice thing about John Boehner in two years, given the partisan climate in Congress these days, so one wouldn't expect them to pass up the opportunity to pounce on the top Republican in the House for his decision to appear at a state GOP midterm rally with former Nazi reenactor Rich Iott this weekend.

But two prominent Jewish House Democrats spoke up this morning and criticized Boehner heavily on a conference call hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council, a group that has already blasted the would-be Speaker over his planned attendance at the Saturday rally in Toledo.

"What's wrong with John Boehner, and what's wrong with his view of the world that he thinks it's okay to put his arm around a candidate who does that?" asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL), a deputy whip in the Democratic caucus and one of the more prominent Jewish members of the House.

Boehner's camp has pointed out that the minority leader isn't appearing at the rally just to campaign for Iott, the GOP House candidate challenging Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who used to dress as a Nazi SS officer as part of a reenactment group on weekends.

It's not an Iott campaign rally. It's an Ohio Republican Party rally, and Boehner has been campaigning for GOP turnout across the state. Iott's just going to be there (and is advertising the "Rally with John Boehner" on his website).

"Leader Boehner will be rallying Republican volunteers at the Lucas County Victory Center to support the local Republican Party's get-out-the-vote efforts.  Boehner has been on the road headlining rallies for Republican candidates in Ohio and across the country, and he'll continue his busy campaign schedule into the final weekend before Tuesday's referendum on Democrats' jobs-killing policies," Don Seymour with Boehner's office told The Atlantic's Josh Green.

What's more, Wasserman-Schultz and Rep. Steve Israel (NY), another prominent Democratic Jewish lawmaker, say the decision to appear with Iott should jeopardize Boehner's prospects as Speaker of the House.

If Republicans take over the House, Boehner will likely become the next Speaker, though he'll have to be elected by Republican members when they all get to Washington to begin the 112th Congress in January. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, the most prominent Jewish Republican in America, could conceivably mount a formidable challenge.

"It should jeopardize John Boehner's potential Speakership," Israel said. "It's bad enough that he would put his arm around a Nazi reenactor...why would any Republican want to put his arm around John Boehner?"

"It should, but sadly I doubt it will because..I think there's a disturbing trend in the Republican Party that too many of them trivialized references to the Holocaust, trivialize Naziism," Wasserman-Schultz said.

Democrats have typically been loath to contemplate, or speculate publicly, on the possibility that Boehner will be Speaker of the House in January ... except when they're painting him as an unfavorable alternative to their own party. For Wasserman-Schultz and Israel, this was a prime opportunity.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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