Calling it “cannibalism” and a “stupid” tactic that will ultimately backfire, conservatives are fuming and firing back over “an outside group aligned with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)” that spent $300,000 to attack conservative Republicans, including three leaders, as detailed in this report in The Hill:
American Action Network, a nonprofit whose board includes former Boehner chief of staff Barry Jackson, launched the $300,000 ad campaign earlier this month with TV spots depicting terrorists and accusing GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Tim Huelskamp (Kansas) and Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) of putting “our security at risk.”
Tea Party Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) equated the attack ads to GOP “cannibalism,” while his conservative colleague Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) called them a “stupid” tactic that would backfire.
Along with the TV spots, the group also ran ads across talk radio, “including shows hosted by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and on digital ads in the district of nine other House Republicans.”
The non-election year ad buy was a shot across the bow to the newly formed House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of nearly 40 conservative rebels led by Jordan who refused to compromise on a DHS funding bill that didn’t include defunding of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Boehner’s playing coy. His spokesman Kevin Smith claims the Speaker doesn’t find the ads “appropriate,” while invoking Reagan’s 11th Commandment, but conservatives aren’t buying it. They find “the Speaker’s fingerprints all over the ad campaign.”
Aside from Boehner’s ex-chief, the AAN board is loaded with GOP establishment allies, including former Republican National Committee chief of staff Mike Shields; Fred Malek, a former aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush; former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.).
As he turns repeatedly to Democrats to pass important measures, Boehner looks like a tremendously weak leader with no genuine influence over long-time Republican conservatives. His effort to distance himself from the “cannibalism” is likely to only inflame the GOP’s conservative base that much more.