Power Play Update: Boehner Digs Aimed at GOP Base

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Democrats today are launching their full fusillade against House Minority Leader John Boehner, but the voters being targeted with this push aren't likely persuadable independents or even Democrats who the majority party hopes to frighten into voting.

The real goal is to cool off fired up Republicans.

"A lot of Republicans don't like the idea of ‘Speaker Boehner' any more than Democrats do," said one Democratic strategist to Power Play. "By talking about him, you remind Republicans of that."

Another observed - "Attacking Boehner is all upside. It works center, left and right. But the big problem this year is voter [intensity], so anything that eats into that is most important."

As Boehner laid out his plan to change House rules to give minority members more access to the process and other procedural changes at the American Enterprise Institute, the Obama campaign and other Democrats are thundering about Boehner's lobbyist connections and other insider-ness outlined in a New York Times hit piece on the speaker-in-waiting.

Given the uneasy alliance between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party movement that is currently providing the party's political horsepower, emphasizing Boehner, a 20-year veteran of the House who is known for his deal-making.

To say that John Boehner is a little-known political figure is to be kind.

Half of Americans in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll hadn't heard of him and 20 percent described their feelings about him neutral. Even knowing party identification would move many of those undecideds off the fence, so we can assume that a lot of these folks only said they knew who Boehner was because people don't like to be embarrassed when strangers ask them questions on the phone.

So, only about a third of Americans can identify John Boehner or place him on the political spectrum, but he is very well known among the conservative activists who are looking to take the country by storm. Reminding them that their efforts on the outside might make an insider the speaker of the house might dampen their spirits a bit.

But with Boehner and his team talking the language of reform, perhaps many Tea Party folks will be willing to take a chance, especially given the alternative of two more years with Nancy Pelosi.