WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner describes himself as "a pretty simple guy" who sleeps well at night and doesn't get angry despite the frustrations of working with a Democratic president and his own often-recalcitrant Republican colleagues.
Boehner, answering questions after a speech on jobs at the Economic Club of Washington D.C., also compared his youth, when he grew up with 11 siblings, to his current job. The "chaos," he said, "is the same thing I deal with every day." And one benefit of working in his father's bar in Cincinnati was that "you have to learn to deal with every jackass who walks through the door."
Relaxed and joking, Boehner said he was "happy that I got the job" of Speaker after Republicans captured the House last year, but added that "I'm not having any fun. Somebody show me where the fun is."
He said that while "I'm not leaving anytime soon," he'd "like to accomplish my mission" and get out.
He also said he has no interest in being the vice presidential candidate on the GOP ticket next year. "It's hard enough for me to go to funerals of people I know, much less people I don't know."
Boehner said he and President Barack Obama "have a very good relationship" although they come from different worlds and sometimes their conversations are "like two different people from two different planets."
But he said that during his ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with Obama last summer on coming up with a deficit reduction plan, "I slept very well every night and I never worried about the outcome... I've done the stress thing before. It doesn't accomplish anything."
He said dealing with 87 Republican freshmen in the House, many with tea party affiliations, has "not really been a big challenge," and that there were "some more senior members who, God bless them, no matter what I do it's not good enough for them."
Speaking of his efforts to get Republicans to go along with the final deficit reduction proposal, he said that "nobody on my staff ever heard me scream. I don't do anger."
But he said "there were a couple of freshmen, a couple of young whippersnappers, who seemed to have all the answers."
Boehner, a smoker, said he told them that he wasn't going to open the door until he got their support and "I said I've got a week-and-a-half's-worth of cigarettes in that chest over there. It still took about 45 minutes."
Asked if he ever wanted to be a pro athlete when he was a high school linebacker, Boehner, who ran a plastics and packaging firm in Ohio, said, "I always wanted to be a salesman and that's what I did.... I thought I was going to do that the rest of my life, but along the way I got involved in my neighborhood homeowners association and I ended up in the U.S. Congress... This could happen to you."