House Speaker John Boehner avoided directly answering questions about Mitt Romney’s recent comments in a leaked video suggesting that 47 percent of Americans won't vote for him because of their "dependence" on government.
"This election is about jobs, we've said it for 20 months and it hasn't changed," the nation's top elected Republican said about the surreptitiously-recorded comments made by Romney at a closed-door fundraiser in May.
Boehner himself rose from humble beginnings to become speaker, though that background -- of which he was reminded by NBC News -- didn't seem to co0lor the Ohio Republican's perception of Romney.
"Listen, the election is about jobs, it's not about anything else. I've had family members who've lost their jobs in this downturn, two of my brothers, two of my brother-in-laws. I know what is happening out there and I know how difficult this economy is," he said at his weekly press conference.
He continued: “You're going to have both campaigns on both sides say things that get off the message. The message is let's stay focused on jobs because that's what the American people want us to stay focused on.”
Romney's recently-revealed comments have added to the challenges facing his campaign, inviting criticism from both Democrats and Republicans alike. But Boehner dismissed the reaction as "political hand-wringing by these Washington insiders trying to make this race look like it's over for the president."
Boehner added of Romney: "He’s going to win, well, Gallup is obviously the largest polling firm out there…they got this as a one-point race.”
Boehner also referenced the Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004 as to why he has confidence in Romney winning the presidency.
"In 2000 and 2004, the Bush ground game that got him elected was -- surpassed anything that we had ever done. The Romney ground game today has already exceeded the number of voter contacts that were made in all of 2004.”
GOP aides tell NBC News that Boehner will be hitting the campaign trail aggressively once Congress recesses until after the election on Friday. As speaker, Boehner is one of the party’s most prolific fundraisers and best-known advocates and will play an important role in trying to secure Ohio for the Romney campaign.