The Washington Post

On final campaign weekend, John Boehner is home

Boehner’s political office released this video highlight reel of the Speaker’s final days on the campaign trail across Ohio.

LIMA, Ohio — Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) feels so confident that Republicans will hold their grip on the U.S. House of Representatives — and that he will win reelection — that he’s spending the final 96 hours of the 2012 campaign traveling across his home state in support of other Republicans.

“This is day 43 of a 45-day trip,” he told about 200 supporters on Saturday at the Mitt Romney campaign office in Lima. “It’s taken me from Maine to San Diego, Bismarck, North Dakota, to Naples, Florida, and everywhere in between.”

Proving that he feels no need to adjust his message in the closing days of the campaign, Boehner then repeated a screed that he recites almost daily back in Washington: “Every place I go, I talk to people and one question just keeps coming up and up and up. And that is, where are the jobs?”

Boehner addresses Republicans at the Lima, Ohio, campaign office of Mitt Romney on Saturday. (Ed O’Keefe via Instagram)

“You know, the American people are concerned about the economy, they’re concerned about jobs, and the fact is the president hasn’t done what he promised the American people he would do,” Boehner said. “He hasn’t produced jobs, he hasn’t reduced the deficit, he hasn’t brought us hope and change. Now the only thing the American people are doing is hoping for change.”

For many of the last 45 days, Boehner has been on the road, holding more than 75 events across 20 states, with 13 separate events across Ohio over the weekend. Boehner’s Buckeye State road trip, which has totaled more than 1,000 miles, began Friday night at a huge Romney rally in his home town of West Chester.

In addition to battleground Ohio, Boehner has held fundraisers and spoken at campaign rallies for Romney and congressional candidates in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Iowa, Florida and Colorado — other states that Romney needs to win and where Republicans are defending or could pick up seats.

Boehner boards his campaign bus after a campaign stop in Lima, Ohio, on Saturday. (Ed O’Keefe via Instagram)

Perhaps most critically for his party, Boehner has raised more than $93 million in the last two years, leveraging his post into a fundraising machine unrivaled among congressional Republicans. Even as he’s coasting to his own reelection, Boehner has raised more than $21 million for his campaign committee — about 33 percent more than his closest rival among House candidates and more than most Senate candidates.

What does he do with that money? He barely spends it in the southwestern Ohio district he’s represented for 22 years. Instead, more than half his receipts have been funneled through dozens of six-figure checks — “excess cash” — into the coffers of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which then spends it on ads supporting House GOP candidates. A few million more dollars went directly to GOP candidates and state party committees as normal, limited donations. This was all done through the auspices of “Boehner for Speaker,” a joint fundraising committee that raises additional dollars for the NRCC and GOP candidates.

By comparison, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has maintained a much lower public profile in recent weeks, even while raising $85.1 million for Democratic congressional candidates in the last two years. In October, aides said Pelosi held 65 fundraising and campaign events in eight states and the District, raising $12.9 million for Democrats.

Unlike Boehner’s full embrace of Romney, Pelosi has not once campaigned publicly alongside President Obama or Vice President Biden in recent months. And though many of her events are publicized and well-attended, Republicans note that several of Pelosi’s stops have been unpublicized or held far away from a struggling Democrat’s home turf. (A February fundraiser for Rep. Leonard L. Boswell (D-Iowa) was held in Nebraska.)

On Saturday the Speaker spoke for just four minutes and 30 seconds and took the stage only after several local GOP officials and candidates had their say. Aides have cautioned reporters that there are few, if any, opportunities to ask him questions along the way, but a Fox News crew tagged along Saturday for an interview set to air on Monday. And Boehner wasn’t just in town to promote local congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio); he also reminded people to support Romney and Josh Mandel, the Republican challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Minutes after his remarks, after quickly working a rope line in the campaign office, Boehner was on back aboard his dark green campaign bus, heading north toward the Cleveland suburbs.

Paul Kane contributed to this report from Washington.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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Ed O'Keefe · November 4, 2012