Over the past two election cycles, they've backed several flawed tea party candidates — Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri last year; Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado in 2010. All won the GOP primaries but lost to Democrats in general elections that Republicans felt they should have won.
Heritage Action, the advocacy wing of the Heritage Foundation, has lobbied aggressively against virtually every bipartisan piece of legislation that Boehner has advanced, including the small-scale budget pact that Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., negotiated with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Last fall, Heritage Action, along with Sens Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, pressed House Republicans to oppose a short-term spending bill that would fund implementation of the much-criticized health care law, even though GOP leaders thought it was a flawed, politically stupid strategy.
"They pushed us into the fight to defund Obamacare and shut down the government," Boehner said. "That wasn't exactly the strategy I had in mind. But if you recall, the day before the government reopened, one of these groups stood up and said, 'Well, we never really thought it would work.' Are you kidding me?"
Boehner was apparently alluding to an interview by Michael Needham, who runs Heritage Action, on Fox News in October.
"Well everybody understands that we're not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017 and that we have to win the Senate and we have to win the White House," Needham said on "America's Newsroom."
Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action, said that Boehner was taking Needham's words out of context. Holler also stood behind Heritage Action's opposition to this week's Boehner-backed budget deal, noting that the group was correct in predicting that the pact would increase deficits in the near term.