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Boehner Declines to Opine About Gingrich’s Rise

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Speaker John Boehner dodged questions today about rising presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, declaring, “I’ve spent a lot of time this year avoiding getting involved in picking winners and losers in the presidential contest.”

The Ohio Republican said it was an “inaccurate rumor” that he was part of a group that sought to replace then-Speaker Gingrich in 1997. Boehner said, “Newt has been a long-time friend,” and would not discuss the Georgia Republican’s controversial tenure as Speaker in the 1990s.

Boehner’s comments came after GOP Members met off campus for a political briefing. The Conference did not make any progress on how to deal with year-end matters including how to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, instead announcing a list of chairmen for the National Republican Campaign Committee’s annual March fundraising dinner. Those chairmen are Reps. Candice Miller (Mich.), Bill Shuster (Pa.) and John Sullivan (Okla.).

“I’m proud to have Candice, Bill and John co-chairing the 2012 March Dinner with their proven leadership and will to win that is vital for achieving our goal of selling the Republican fight for a stronger, more prosperous America,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said in a statement following the meeting.

The 2012 dinner is scheduled for March 20 at the National Building Museum. The dinner serves as House Republicans’ largest fundraiser of the year; it brought in more than $10 million last year.

The NRCC has not announced its keynote speaker for the dinner yet. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, talk show host Sean Hannity and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal headlined previous dinners.

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