“If the election were today, I'm very optimistic that we will hold our majority,” Boehner said. “But my job is to make sure that, even under a worst-case scenario, we're able to hold onto our majority. So ... what I'm trying to do is to wake some people up and realize that we've got a challenge here. And we've got 242 Republicans in Congress that are all up for election, 53 of them in pretty tough races.”
On the presidential campaign, Boehner said that he has not yet spoken with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, but expects to in the near future.
“He called and I called him back. We've kind of traded some ... some voice-mails. But I expect that I will soon,” Boehner said.
Asked about possible running mates for Romney, Boehner said that Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would all be solid choices.
“There are a lot of people that I like,” Boehner said. “But this is a personal choice for Gov. Romney. And I'm confident he'll have a running mate that will be helpful to the ticket.”
“I think the number one quality is, are they capable of being president in the case of an emergency?” Boehner continued, adding that Rubio, Portman and Daniels would all fit the bill.
Boehner also said he’s pleased with his House leadership over the past 16 months, pointing to the lack of earmarks. House Republicans and Senate Democrats agreed to take a break from Member directed spending in appropriations bill for the current Congress.
“Who could imagine,” Boehner said of the earmark issue. “It’s made my job a lot more difficult in terms of how to pass important legislation because I have no grease.” He also believes the process is more open.
But despite Boehner’s upbeat appraisal Congress’ approval rating continues to hover around single digits.
“I see the polling and I understand the American people's angst,” Boehner said. “The economy is a big problem; our national debt is a very big problem. So I understand their anxiety.
“But institutionally, my job as the speaker of the whole House, my job is to protect the institution and to strengthen the institution of the Congress,” Boehner continued. “And while people don't like the Congress, I understand that,” Boehner said.” My job is to try and make it better.”
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.