In his third major television interview in recent weeks, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) sounds alarms about House Republican chances this fall, strikes back at one of President Obama’s top advisers and comes to the defense of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The Speaker has been making the TV rounds recently, first sitting with NBC’s Matt Lauer in late March, with CBS’s Charlie Rose last week and now with Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer for an interview airing today. During the conversation, Hemmer asks whether House Republicans will retain their majority after November’s elections.
“I believe that we will but we’ve got a real challenge,” Boehner says.
As The Fix first noted, Boehner offers a candid and detailed assessment of his party’s chances: “We have 50 of our members in tough races, 89 freshmen running for their first reelections and we have 32 districts that are in states where there is no presidential campaign going to be run, no big Senate race and we call these orphan districts. You take 18 of them, California, Illinois and New York where you know we’re not likely to do well at the top of the ticket and those districts are frankly pretty vulnerable.”
“I would say that there is a two in three chance that we win control of the House again but there’s a one in three chance that we could lose and I’m being myself, frank, we’ve got a big challenge and we’ve got work to do,” the speaker adds.
During the interview Hemmer also asks Boehner about Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod’s recent comments that House Republicans are conducting a “reign of terror.”
“I think that that is just outrageous talk. They’re trying to make this election, as I said earlier, about anything other than the president’s failed economic policies and so they’re going to look for every boogeyman known to man,” Boehner says. “Listen, if Republicans were walking in lock step my job would be a whole lot easier.”
The speaker also defends Ryan’s budget proposal against Democratic attacks:
“We have debt that’s out of control,” he tells Fox. “The president didn’t deal with it in his budget, that’s why when it came to the floor of the House, the president’s budget got zero votes. Four hundred and fourteen members voted against it, not one Democrat voted for the president’s budget. Why, because it wasn’t a serious effort. Our budget is a serious effort to deal with America’s problems. If we don’t deal with our growing entitlement crisis those programs will not exist and so we’ve got to deal with them and I think being upfront and straightforward about it is the correct path.”
Finally, Boehner insists that Mitt Romney is holding his own against President Obama ahead of November’s election, saying the former governor “has a great story to tell.”
Then he repeats a line he used during his NBC and CBS interviews: “The election is going to be a referendum on the president’s economic policies, pure and simple. Now the president’s going to try to make the election about everything other than his economic policies but the American people vote with their wallets.”
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