WH spokesman calls Boehner's middle-class comment 'astounding'

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday pushed back on House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat MORE's (R-Ohio) remark that President Obama "doesn't give a damn about middle-class Americans," calling the criticism "astounding."

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing, Carney said helping the middle class is the "principal preoccupation" of Obama's presidency, adding that the president's focus from day one has been on the middle class.

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"All of his domestic initiatives are focused principally on the middle class," Carney said. "It's the reason he's running for reelection."

At a press conference with Republican leaders earlier in the day, John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat MORE-defends-romney-on-tax-returns-calls-issue-a-sideshow" href="http://thehill.com/homenews/house/238635-boehner-defends-romney-on-tax-returns-calls-issue-a-sideshow">Boehner said Obama "doesn't give a damn about middle-class Americans who are out of work.

"What he's trying to do is distract the American people in order to win his own reelection," the Speaker said.

Carney, who said he wasn't personally aware of the comment until he was asked by a reporter during the briefing, said it's "astounding to hear a criticism like that."

"I'll happily talk at length about the president's record supporting helping make a more secure middle class," he said.