House GOP Members and Members-elect met to elect leaders for the 111th Congress beginning at 10:00 a.m. this morning. Nominating and seconding speeches for the office of Republican Leader have just taken place. Mr. Boehner and his opponent, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), participated in a House Republican Leader Candidates’ Forum this morning prior to the start of the organizing conference. Following are excerpts from Mr. Boehner’s remarks as prepared.
EXCERPTS FROM BOEHNER PRESENTATION AT HOUSE GOP LEADER CANDIDATES’ FORUM (REMARKS AS PREPARED)
This election is about leadership. You know the kind of leader I am, and the kind of leader I’ll be. I’ll always listen to your ideas. I’ll always be straight with you. I’ll lead by example.
We have an unprecedented opportunity ahead of us. We’ve been given a chance to break with the mistakes of the past and redefine ourselves as the party of reform.
In recent years Americans lost faith in us; stopped believing we are what we claim to be. There are various views on why. Some blame President Bush. Others blame Congressional Republicans and our own actions during our 12 years in the majority. While there are many views on why Americans lost their faith, we’re unanimous on one thing: it’s time to win it back.
What do I mean by “opportunity?”
America needs us to be the party of reform again. We have a chance to pull together and be the party America needs us to be.
I wasn’t born a Republican; I grew up in a working class family of Kennedy Democrats. I didn’t know I was a Republican until I looked up one day and realized Washington was at odds with everything I believed.
If history is any guide, millions of Americans will have a similar experience in the coming months as President-elect Obama and the Democrat Congress move their agenda. Our job is to make sure those Americans find a proud home in the Republican Party.
I ran for Congress to fight for smaller, more accountable government. This is what drives me. I think we have a unique chance to renew that fight. From the Northeast to the Deep South, there is a distrust of Big Government that will only intensify in the months ahead.
This is an opportunity we haven’t had in years. We have to seize it – together. If I’m the Leader, this will be my focus. We win the majority by winning the issue and building a majority coalition together one issue at a time.
Energy this year was the model. We need to take the same approach to the other big issues. We saw a problem that Americans cared about. We crafted a solution that united our Conference and brought together your best ideas. We were relentless and relentless and relentless in communicating that message. We had an outside echo chamber and grass-roots support. And we won the issue.
Ideas are vitally important. We need your solutions, rooted in our enduring principles. We need to be bold. But we have to figure out how to be bold together. The “same old same old” won’t cut it. BUT we have to be willing to work w/ each other and reach consensus on how to do it.
I want to challenge you: bring your ideas to the table. I promise: if you bring ideas to the table, I’ll listen. If it’s an idea that’s relevant, that touches a constituency, that seizes the initiative, I and my team will make it a priority. We can’t slip into the mode of “comfortable minority” or “angry, bitter minority.” We have to engage in the battle of ideas.
Tone is important, too. Mike Pence always says, “I’m a conservative, but I’m not angry about it.” This is the tone we want. Respect our opponents; fight for our principles. Relish the battle of ideas.
Most important: being a team – at every level. Show up at hearings and markups. Carry our message. Support your colleagues.
Let’s seize the opportunity to be the party of reform again. And let’s do it together.
I know we can do it. I ask for the honor of your vote so I can lead this effort.