TAMPA, Florida — Every four years, Democrats and Republicans alike tell their supporters that the presidential election on the ballot that particular year is the most important in their lifetime.
But U.S. House Speaker John Boehner had a message Tuesday morning for Missouri delegates gathered in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.
With 23 million people either unemployed or underemployed, with regulations making it hard for small businesses to hire, and with the federal government getting too involved in health care, Boehner said: "The most important election ever is going to be this November — and I think you all understand that."
Speaking to a packed room of about 50 delegates and other Missouri GOP leaders — including former governor and U.S. senator Christopher "Kit" Bond — Boehmer delivered a scathing attack on President Barack Obama.
The theme of the first full day of the convention Tuesday is "We Built It," a reference to Obama's comments at a campaign event in Viriginia last month. And Boehner, as have other Republicans here, hammered the president for that comment, which the GOP says is a slam at small business owners.
"He says the private sector is doing fine. He says his plan works. He's also the one who said, 'You didn't build that,'" the Ohio congressman said. "It took me weeks and weeks to get over the comment that 'You didn't build it.' And anyone here who has owned a small business knows what I'm talking about."
Referring to his time as a business owner, Boehner said: "I remember lying awake at night some nights worrying about whether the accounts receivable the next day was going to be large enough to cover the payroll I had that I had to do the next week
"I don't remember Barack Obama laying next to me and holding my hand," Boehner joked. "I don't remember the government sitting there waiting to offer me some interest-free loan."
"This says a lot about the president because he's never had a real job. He's never done anything," Boehner added. "He really does believe that government is the answer to virtually everything."
Romney and running mate Paul Ryan, on the other hand, will be able to solve the issues facing the country, he said.
"We've got big challenges and we've met them before — and guess what? — we can meet those challenges again," Boehner said. "But it's going to take a president who has the courage of his own convictions and the courage to lead, and the courage to do the right thing. (Romney) knows how to create jobs, he knows what the government does in terms of interfering with the private market."
Polls show the presidential race is tight both in Missouri and nationwide, and Boehner acknowledged that Republicans have a tough battle on their hands. But he believes the party will come out on top in November.
"I'm optimistic about our ticket," he said. "We've got real leadership that can put America back on track...This is the moment and this is the time.