House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was on the defensive Sunday for his longtime smoking habit.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer drilled Boehner on “Face the Nation” for his ties to the tobacco industry and on the example he sets by continuing to smoke, given cigarettes’ status as the leading cause of preventable deaths.
“Bob, tobacco is a legal product in America,” Boehner said. “The American people have the right to decide for themselves whether they want to partake or not.”
He added, “There are lots of things that we deal with and come in contact with every day — from alcohol to food to cigarettes — a lot of things that aren’t good for our health.”
Boehner, who is in a public campaign to become Speaker if Republicans win the majority in the House, counts the tobacco industry as his biggest campaign contributor.
Still, he conceded that he wished he weren’t a smoker.
“I wish I didn’t have this bad habit, and it is a bad habit,” Boehner said.
“But it’s something that I choose to do and at some point maybe I’ll decide I’ve had enough of it,” he said.
Schieffer further pressed that if Boehner becomes Speaker, he could set an example, along with President Barack Obama, by stopping smoking.
“I appreciate your suggestion,” Boehner said.