As the midterm elections approach and the unemployment rate hovers at 9.5 percent, House Minority Leader John Boehner says Republican chances for taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives this November revolve around one central issue: jobs.
"The election is going to be a referendum on job-killing policies that are coming out of this administration and our colleagues across aisle," Boehner said. "We've lost more than three million jobs since the stimulus bill was signed into law. Americans are sick and tired of spending, spending, spending, and not seeing any jobs as a result."
Republicans need to pick up 40 seats to regain the majority in the House, but Boehner expects his party to carry the momentum on through the fall. The Ohio Republican says the GOP is running at least one candidate in 431 contests and his goal is to place formidable Republican candidates in all 435 House races – a feat he claims has not happened with either party in the history of the Congress.
"After Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, there is not a race in America that we can't win. Unfortunately we're probably not going to win every one of them. If you don't have a horse in the race, you can't win the horse race. We're going to have one we believe in in every district," Boehner said.
"Our goal is to earn back the majority, and to renew our efforts for a smaller more accountable government, and it's an uphill climb but it is doable," Boehner said.
Boehner also is clearly focused on one longtime personal goal - becoming Speaker of the House. Asked what a "Speaker Boehner" would do differently to create jobs than Democratic Speaker Pelosi has done, he said repealing the health care bill is the first step toward fixing the economy.
"Not only will [the health care bill] ruin the best health care system in world, it will bankrupt our country, and it stands in the way of employers who want to expand their employment. When you raise the cost of having an employee, you're going to have less of them, and I think there are common sense reforms that we can enact that will bring down the cost of health insurance and help protect American jobs," Boehner said.
Boehner Promises He Would Be A More Open Speaker of HouseBoehner, who was a small business owner before joining the House in 1991, revealed to reporters that the Great Recession has even claimed a few victims in his own family.
"I have real empathy for those who are unemployed, matter of fact, most of you know I have 11 brothers and sisters. I know three of my brothers have lost their jobs, I'm not sure whether they've found jobs yet, so I have a lot of empathy for those that are caught in this economic downturn."
The House Republican leader pledged that he would run the House differently than recent Speakers – calling for more transparency and openness, such as posting bills online 72 hours before a vote on the House floor.
"If we're lucky enough to be the majority, and if I'm lucky enough to be Speaker of the House, I've made it clear that we're going to run (the House) differently than it's being run today, and I'm going to run the House differently than it was run by Republicans in the past," Boehner said. "I am not Barack Obama and I am not Nancy Pelosi, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Those of you that have dealt with me over the years know that that's a fact, and it will remain a fact."
Asked whether a close association between Republicans and the Tea Party limits the GOP's appeal to moderate, left-leaning voters, Boehner stood up for the Tea Party.
"There are some disaffected Republicans there, there are always some Democrats there, always some anarchists who want to kill all of us in public office, but I'll tell you this: 75 percent of these people who show up at these events are the most average everyday Americans you've ever met," Boehner said. "They represent the same values, concerns, frustration, anger and fear that you see from tens of millions of other Americans…they should not be dismissed, they shouldn't be mocked, as I've said earlier this year, we should listen to them, we should work with them, and we should walk amongst them."
Asked what traits would make him an effective Speaker of the House, Boehner cited his experience as a consensus builder in Congress – working to reach across the aisle during his career with liberal Democrats like Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. George Miller to pass bipartisan legislation.
Boehner's Vision As Speaker: Building Trust Across the Aisle
"Big things don't happen in Washington on partisan votes," Boehner said. "We're not going to be able to solve the big problems in our country until members begin to work with each other again, and trust each other once again. And it isn't going to happen overnight."