Speaker-designate John Boehner (Ohio) showed a softer side during an interview Sunday with “60 Minutes,” crying several times as he talked about becoming the most powerful Republican in the country and about the kind of leader he hopes to be next year.
Boehner became emotional talking about his teary speech on election night, when his party captured the majority in the House and he was catapulted into power. “I was talking, trying to talk, about the fact I’ve been chasing the American dream my whole career,” he said. “There are some things that are very difficult to talk about: family, kids.”
He also choked up when explaining that he no longer gives speeches at schools because the visits are too overwhelming. “You see all these kids running around, I can’t talk about it,” he said, tears welling in his eyes. “Making sure that these kids have a shot at the American dream ... it’s important.”
Boehner isn’t worried that his tendency to cry will affect his ability to lead. “What you see is what you get,” he said. “I know who I am. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and everybody who knows me knows that I get emotional about certain things.”
His wife, Debbie, explained later in the interview that he wasn’t always so prone to tears. “He’s going through an emotional period,” she said. “Who ever thought he’d be in this position? He was a janitor on the night shift when I met him.”
But the interview wasn’t all waterworks.
The Speaker-designate briefly addressed his plans for cutting spending in the 112th Congress, saying one of the first bills he plans to push is a 5 percent budget cut for leadership and rank-and-file offices and for House committees.
Boehner also discussed his willingness to find common ground with President Barack Obama and Democrats on legislation, such as a proposal to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that Obama recently negotiated with Republican leaders.
But Boehner cautioned that Democrats should not expect him to compromise. “When you say the word ‘compromise,’ a lot of Americans look up and say, ‘Oh, they are going to sell me out,’” he said.
When asked whether he was afraid of the word “compromise,” he said, “I reject the word.”
He also talked about the possibility of playing a round of golf with Obama. “Listen, playing golf with someone is a great way to really get to know someone,” he said. “You start trying to hit that little white ball, you can’t be somebody that you’re not, because all of you shows up.”
Asked why he and the president have yet to hit the green, Boehner said, “We’ve talked about it a number of times, it just hasn’t happened yet.”