Ex-Rep. LaTourette says Boehner defections 'not a good sign' for GOP

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GOP defections against the election of John Boehner as Speaker are "not a good sign," retiring Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) said Friday.

"I really wish these new folks well, but yesterday is not a good sign that that's going to happen," said LaTourette, who is close to the Speaker. 

"You know, 12 people, it was either nine or 12 who just leave the reservation and just don't vote for the Speaker. That vote is a no-brainer. I mean, it's all about whether or not your party is going to control the agenda in the House of Representatives," LaTourette said on CNN's "Starting Point."

LaTourette, who cited the demise of bipartisanship in announcing his retirement in July, told CNN that Republicans in the House "have to come to terms" with the need to compromise and legislate.

"What do these chuckleheads think, that having Nancy Pelosi being the Speaker of the House is better for the Republican Party?" he asked. "I don't think so. And so they really have to come to terms with 'why are they here?' I mean, if they're just here to vote no, we can train a monkey to come and vote no."

Boehner (R-Ohio) was reelected Speaker of the House on Thursday, but with a bare majority. Nine Republicans voted for other GOP members and several other members abstained from voting or voted "present."

LaTourette noted that it's "not horribly unusual" for a sitting House Speaker to lose votes from his or her base, and he pointed out that it generally turns out worse for the defector than the Speaker.

"It's the fourth time that it's happened in my time here in Washington. First time was with Newt Gingrich, and Nancy Pelosi lost some of her members. And [former Rep.] Jim Traficant from Ohio famously voted for Dennis Hastert. It doesn't send a good signal, and if you look at what happened to all of those revolutionaries, not many of them are left in Congress, and of course Congressman Traficant went to prison," he said.

"So it's not really a good way to start your career."

LaTourette defended Boehner's role in the fiscal-cliff deal, saying that the Speaker reached the best deal possible on taxes, given President Obama's win in November.

"The president won reelection. Everybody knew taxes were going up. Boehner's job was to keep it from going up on as few people as he could. He did that, but he also achieved things we could never achieve, even with [President] George [W.] Bush in the White House," he said.