White House press secretary: 'Not president's goal' to 'annihilate' GOP

White House press secretary Jay Carney objected Thursday to Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) assessment that President Obama wanted to "annihilate the Republican Party," saying the president "believes that the two-party system is part of the foundation of our democracy."

"I know it’s not his goal," Carney said when asked about Boehner's speech. "His goal is to work together with Congress, with members of both parties to achieve progress on behalf of the American people."

Boehner made the comment Tuesday in a speech to the Ripon Society that served as a rebuttal to the president's inaugural address.

“Given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.

“And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal — to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

Republicans have complained that Obama's speech, which called for the legalization of same-sex marriage and new environmental policies, in addition to other liberal goals, was divisive. Carney disputed that characterization, saying that the president had called for unity and compromise between the parties.

"You heard him say in the inaugural address that even though we have profound differences and differences that we will not resolve necessarily in the next year or two or three or four, it is imperative that we come together and act on behalf of the American people," Carney said.

When a reporter pressed Carney on if Obama would truly object to the annihilation of the Republican Party, it drew laughs from others in the media. But Carney said that the president would, in fact, "object to" such a development.

"What he believes, however, is that we need to have spirited debates but not debates that paralyze us," Carney said. "We need to compromise, not be absolutists, but agree that the call — that the need to act on behalf of the American people should compel us to make reasonable compromise while we stick to our principles."

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