Jan. 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Speaker Is in No Danger

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Nevertheless, retiring Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) acknowledged that anytime a Speaker oversees a losing year, there might be pressure to step aside or shake up the leadership team.

Burton is in a unique position to judge Boehners standing. As one of former Speaker Newt Gingrichs (Ga.) closest allies, he bore personal witness to the Speakers demise in 1998, when Republicans lost five seats but retained their majority. Within three days of the elections, Gingrich resigned.

Well Ive been there when they went after Newt. I was one of Newts lieutenants, and he had me count votes for him the day that he went down the tubes. And I called him up and I says, You dont have 218, Burton said.

There was silence on the phone. He said, What do you mean? I said, Well theres probably 15 or 20 guys that arent going to vote for you, so youre not going to get 218, Burton continued.

To be sure, there are significant differences between Boehner and Gingrich in July 1997 Gingrich faced a failed coup attempt, and his bombastic personality had long been seen as a liability to the party.

Neither of those issues has been a problem for Boehner, who remains deeply popular within his Conference on a personal level. And aside from occasional ribbing for his penchant for crying, he has never been viewed as a public image liability.

Boehners goal is to have a personal relationship with every House Republican Member. He is proud of the progress our team has made on the American peoples priorities at a time when Washington is still controlled by Democrats and hes eager to accomplish more, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

Indeed, sources close to Boehner said Gingrichs rise and fall have served as a cautionary tale for Boehner, who as one source noted, had a front row seat during Gingrichs fall from grace.

Still, Gingrich wasnt forced out until the GOP suffered losses during the 1998 midterm elections. It was President Bill Clintons second midterm election, and opposition parties typically gain House seats during midterm elections.

It does happen. But I think Boehners a pretty smart politician. And I think Cantors a smart politician. I think theyre both smart. And I dont see, if we retain the House and things go fairly well, I dont see a big change, Burton said.

At least for now, even some of Boehners critics are discounting the prospect of a bad year.

Theres a frustration with this president and his policies. I think its going to be a good year for Republicans, Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) said.

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