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Tea Party Congressmen: John Boehner Doing an 'Awesome' Job

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The reports of Speaker of the House John Boehner's demise at the hands of rebellious tea partiers have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, Boehner's support among freshman Republicans tied to the Tea Party movement is stronger than it has ever been, they say.  Boehner himself has said there's "no daylight" between him and the Tea Party movement.  That may just be right.

ABC News brought together four freshman Republicans for a roundtable discussion on the Speaker's leadership during the first 100 days of the new Republican majority in the House.  They come from four different parts of the country, each elected on a wave of Tea Party support.  None was thrilled with the compromise Boehner brokered to avert a government shutdown, but all give him high marks for fighting hard.

"I think he did a tremendous job," said Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.  "In fact, it hurts my feelings sometimes when I hear people criticize him because we know him to be completely committed, completely conservative, and a very hardworking gentleman."

Ellmers came to Washington as the quintessential Tea Party candidate.  A nurse who only got into politics because she was outraged by the Obama health care law, she was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

Her praise of Boehner is echoed by fellow tea partier Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), a pizzeria owner who had never been involved in politics before running for Congress last year.

"I think for being our leader, I think he's an awesome guy to have there doing the negotiations," said Schilling.

Boehner has won over the freshman Republicans -- at least for now -- by bringing them into his decision-making.

"The thing I see him doing is listening a lot," said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who owned a dental practice before running for Congress last year.  "It's listening.  It's not telling us.  It's listening."

When asked to grade Boehner's leadership, three of them gave him an A (Rep. Frank Guinta,R-N.H., Ellmers and Gosar).  Schilling gave him an A-minus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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