TAMPA, Fla. — Trying to shift the nation’s political attention back to the GOP’s preferred battleground — jobs and the economy — House Speaker John A. Boehner said Republicans will retain, if not expand, their hold on the House. Boehner’s bullish outlook comes as Democrats are attacking rank-and-file lawmakers for their votes to overhaul Medicare under Paul Ryan’s plan and linking them to colleague Todd Akin’s remarks that pregnancy rarely results from “legitimate rape.”
“Most of them are in better shape than I would have guessed,” the Ohio Republican said Monday in a wide-ranging interview hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “We’re in a position to keep our majority and ... even expand it.”
As the threat of a Gulf Coast hurricane rattled the Republican National Convention, Boehner, who is the gathering’s chairman, shrugged off the unpopularity of Congress and dismissed the trappings of party events like this.
“I’m not sure a four-day convention in the future makes a lot of sense,” said Boehner. He dismissed the hard-fought wrangling over a party platform, which outlines a host of social policy positions against abortion in cases of rape and incest and others, issues that party leaders would rather not focus on.
“It ought to be on one sheet of paper,” said Boehner, whose main talking point over the past year has been a single line: “Where are the jobs?”
“Have you ever met anyone who’s read the party platform? I haven’t.”
In the roundtable interview, Boehner, tanned and with a fresh haircut after weeks on the road stumping for GOP congressional candidates, was frank and upbeat.
The speaker said the 89 freshmen, most of whom rode the 2010 wave to the House majority, have inspired the next generation of candidates — even after their own 20 months in Congress has been a “baptism by fire.”
“Eighty of them are as rock-solid as can be — you know, it’s just not the same 80 every day,” Boehner said, to chuckles.
As for the unpopularity of Congress — some in his often unruly majority made headlines recently for skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee — Boehner said Congress has long been the public’s “whipping boy.”
“There are 435 members — on any given day, some of them are out there doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing,” he said. “It’s just a fact.”