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House Republican leader optimistic about fall elections

Rep. John Boehner argues that his party might even regain the majority.

John Boehner, (R-OH) left

Andy Nelson / The Christian Science Monitor

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Washington - House Republican leader John Boehner argues that political pundits are wrong and that his party will pick up seats in the House in the 2008 election and might even regain the majority it lost in November 2006.

"We will gain seats this year, period. I mentioned the difficulty, the challenge we will have in earning back a majority. But that is my goal.... I am leading an effort for us to earn our way back, and I think it is possible," Representative Boehner said at a Monitor-sponsored lunch with reporters on Thursday.

The blunt-spoken Boehner said that "part of the basis" for his optimism is that the presidential primary battle between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama could lead lasting scars. "One side is going to be sorely disappointed when they have a nominee," the House minority leader said. "What isn't measured, and can't be measured, is the number of people who are disappointed who just don't show up and vote.... The longer this goes on, there are going to be some very disappointed people."

The eventual Democratic nominee will have weaknesses that Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, can exploit, Boehner said. "We are going to face either one of the most polarizing people in American politics or the most liberal senator in the United States Senate," he said.

Impartial experts take a much dimmer view than Boehner of the Republicans' chances of picking up seats in the House this fall. If Republicans win a majority of House seats, Boehner would be in line to be speaker.


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