House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters on Wednesday that the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) showed the GOP “there was not a race in America that we can’t win.”
Republicans will not win every race, Boehner said during a Christian Science Monitor lunch at the St. Regis Hotel, but that as a result of the wide field the GOP have a good shot of winning back the House in November.
“It’s an uphill climb but it is doable,” Boehner said, claiming that Republicans have a candidate or several candidates running in 431 House seats. The Minority Leader reiterated the election will be a referendum on the Democratic agenda, which he said is broadly unpopular. Republicans see Brown’s election as a bellwether — he took the seat of Democratic icon Edward Kennedy in a special election that was initially expected to be a cakewalk for the Democrats.
Boehner praised the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program for its role in encouraging a vast array of people to run, calling it “one of smartest things that I’ve seen us do in the 20 years that I’ve been here.” Young Guns is a three-step program that sets benchmarks for candidates to qualify for NRCC support.
Boehner talked at length about the economy and the need to create jobs for the unemployed, noting his family was not immune to the downturn.
“I know three of my brothers lost their jobs. I’m not sure whether they’ve found jobs yet,” he said.
Boehner reiterated his criticisms of the Democratic agenda as anti-business, saying that hiring by private firms has stalled because of the newly passed financial regulation reform law, the health care law and questions about whether tax rates will go up.
“A lot of the uncertainty will go away” if Republicans take control, he said. “We are not going to raise people’s taxes, we are not going to have card check’ on the floor of the House, we are not going to have cap-and-trade on the floor of the House, and removing that uncertainty that exists today will do more to help America’s employers than anything that we can do.”
He also reiterated his pledge to “repeal ObamaCare” if he becomes Speaker. Boehner said the health care law “stands in the way of employers who want to expand their employment” because it raises the cost of hiring staff.
Though he listed many campaign promises during the hourlong lunch, Boehner was noncommittal on one issue — his future as a smoker.
Asked by a reporter whether he would quit smoking if he becomes Speaker, Boehner laughed and said, “I have a close friend who also smokes, and he has some health issues. His doctors urged him to quit smoking. I told him if he quits, I’ll quit.
“I wouldn’t do it for myself, I’d do it for him,” Boehner said. “I offered.”