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David Jolly Defends John Boehner, Insists GOP and Tea Party Can Work Together

March 19, 2014 - 7:00pm

Fresh off his win over Democratic candidate former state CFO Alex Sink, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., took to the national airwaves on Thursday night to call for unity within the Republican ranks.

Jolly appeared on Politicking" with Larry King on Ora.TV on Thursday night and said he supported U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and insisted Republicans and the tea party were often on the same page.

The tea party has been very critical of Speaker Boehner, King said. How do you regard the tea party? How do you regard him?"

Within my party, were all one party, Jolly replied. I dont really subscribe to the labels. I can tell you this: between the tea party and -- if you want to call the other faction Main Street, however you label it, I dont buy into the labels -- I think on our side of the party, we all agree on certain constitutional principles. We all agree on certain core convictions and I look more at where we come together than where we divide, because I dont think theres areas where we divide, sometimes on tactics.

What Ive said about Speaker Boehner is that I have enormous respect for him, Jolly continued. Im proud to call him my speaker now as a member of Congress.

Jolly insisted Boehner was often fighting an uphill battle as he took on both President Barack Obama and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

He has done great work under very difficult circumstances, Jolly said about Boehner. We know, as everything has broken down in Washington, that it has come down to Mr. Boehner, Mr. Reid, and the president. Well listen: hes outnumbered 2-1 in that equation. And the fact that he has been able to keep the country going and represent every step of the way, where he could, our core principles of our party -- I have great respect for Speaker Boehner that hes been able to do that.

King asked Jolly what he thought about Obamas signature federal health-care law.

In your speech on Election Night, you never mentioned the Affordable Care Act, King said. I was wondering if, as a concept, the United States until the Affordable Care Act was the only industrialized nation in the world without a national health plan. Do you think we should have a national health plan?"

Well actually, on Election Night, I mentioned the role of big government, Jolly countered. And I believe I said, We must never sacrifice our individual freedoms at the altar of big government. That was my reference to Obamacare, if you will.

"Listen, we do have -- you can call it nationalized programs' -- we have programs for people currently who need assistance with health insurance, Jolly added. We take care of our seniors through Medicare, those who cant afford it through Medicaid. The issue with Obamacare was never that we were trying to solve a problem -- or the president was trying to solve a problem. He should have. We should have. My own party should try to solve health care coverage problems. The difference was the approach. All politics are local. I had five months to talk about my specific alternatives. We talked about covering 26-year-olds through less regulations.

We talked about affordable care through something like a term health insurance planportable across state lines, Jolly continued. We could close the doughnut hole simply by closing the doughnut hole. We could cover pre-existing conditions through some type of Medicare-type program that prequalifies individuals. All of those were specific solutions to specific problems. The issue with Obamacare was that it injected the government into nearly one-sixth or one-seventh of our economy, imposed an individual mandate on people, and in its execution, it became a pocketbook issue. The number of people in my community -- and I know across the country -- who saw increased premiums or canceled policies; and then where we really saw the hurt was with businesses that were having to absorb additional costs and reduce employee hours. So its not that we shouldnt be trying to solve these problems. We should. We had some health insurance coverage issues. The issue was the solution proposed by the president and my opponent in this race.

King asked Jolly about how he saw his new responsibilities and reaching across the aisle to work with the Democrats.

"Youve also said that you want to work with Democrats," King said. The break in this country is in -- I have no memory of when Ive ever seen such a split -- do you think that can happen? Can the Republicans and Democrats sit down and solve issues instead of the bickering?"

We have to elect people committed to doing it, Jolly answered. Listen, if I lose an election one day because Im too willing to work with people from both sides of the aisle, thats OK. I got elected to do a job. I bring certain core convictions to the job and I will carry those forward. But we have to work with civility. We have to find areas to work together. I think one of the issues -- why the divisions are so bad right now -- speaks not so much to the Congress, but once the Supreme Court allowed district lines to be drawn on political boundaries, weve created so many seats that are either super Republican or super Democrat. And therefore, we elect people that are either super Republicans or super Democrats. And so you get to Congress, and of course its going to be hard to find common ground. Look, everybody should bring their own convictions to Washington. I intend to do so. I told my colleagues that I respect them for doing so as well. We should at least be committed to finding areas where we can work together, and where we cant, lets be civil about it and continue the conversation.

After his narrow win over Sink last week, Jolly is a top Democratic target in November. Sink has said she is open to a second run. Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), told the media he hoped Sink would run again.


Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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