House Speaker John Boehner told a group of Republicans the day after President Barack Obama's inaugural ceremony that the president's focus was to "annihilate the Republican Party."
In remarks to Republicans attending a closed luncheon sponsored by the Ripon Society, Boehner pointed to the president's speech as evidence Obama recognizes he can't achieve his agenda because of the GOP-led House of Representatives.
"Given what we heard yesterday about the president's vision for his second term, it's pretty clear to me that he knows he can't do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we're expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party," the House speaker said.
Boehner underlined his point, adding, "And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal -- to just shove us into the dustbin of history."
Boehner's spokesman said the transcript of Boehner's remarks posted by the Ripon Society was accurate, and noted that the speaker regularly attends the event held by the mainstream Republican group.
In his speech Boehner explained his strategy to move forward with a three month extension of the debt ceiling that includes a provision to force the Senate to vote on a budget.
The Ohio Republican also talked about how he's had to reassure fellow GOP members and donors who have expressed frustration in recent weeks about the political climate, including text he received from former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz. He's a longtime Republican supporter and Boehner friend who the speaker has tapped to give motivational speeches to House members.
Boehner noted that he had asked Holtz to come talk to the House Republican freshmen recently to prepare them for the fights ahead, but ended up having to convince Holtz the party would sort things out.
"I said, 'Lou, would you stop it? We're Americans, we'll figure this out!' And I had to spend 15 minutes giving Lou Holtz a pep talk! I had to do it again last night!" Boehner said.
The speaker also noted that he and other House Republican leaders charted out a short term strategy at their retreat last week with all House Republicans, but the party needed to begin a broader discussion about the big policy debates ahead.
"And while a lot of the retreat unfortunately got focused on the next 90 days, there needs to be further work to talk about how we're going to navigate the next 20 months and what our goals are and how do we defend ourselves in what I do believe is going to be a very hostile environment. All I know is I'm up for the fight," he said.