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Q&A: A profile of House speaker John Boehner

A profile of the House speaker

There's a great full picture of the House speaker on the front page of your paper. How about a little information about him?

Republican House Speaker John Boehner (pronounced BAY-ner) is serving his 11th term as a U.S. representative from the 8th Congressional District, which sits on Ohio's western border with Indiana and includes the cities of Hamilton, Middletown and parts of Dayton.

Boehner was born Nov. 17, 1949, in Reading, Ohio, one of 12 children of parents who owned a bar. The 61-year-old graduated from Cincinnati Moeller High School, where he played football as a linebacker for coach Gerry Faust, who later coached at Notre Dame.

After high school graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, but was discharged after eight weeks because of a bad back.

He eventually enrolled at Xavier University and graduated in 1977 with a business administration degree. He took a sales job at Lucite Sales, a small company in the packaging and plastics industry. He became company president and was an Ohio state representative from 1985-1990. In 1990 he ran for the U.S. Congress against Donald "Buz" Lukens, who was embroiled in a sex scandal, and won easily.

In the House, Boehner joined with six other Republican legislators to form the "Gang of Seven," which pushed for a variety of reforms in government. He also aligned himself with then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and the Gang of Seven, and was one of the legislators who formed the "Contract with America," which outlined what Republicans planned to do if they won back control of the House in 1994. The contract was widely credited with the GOP taking control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1953.

In 2006, after Republicans lost control of the House, Boehner was elected minority leader. And after Republicans regained the House in the 2010 elections, he was unanimously elected speaker.

Boehner has been married to the former Debbie Gunlack since 1973, and they have two daughters, Lindsay and Tricia. The family home is in West Chester, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.

Politically, Boehner is described as a partisan, hard-core conservative. "I have one of the most conservative voting records in the House," he told Time magazine. "But I don't wear it on my sleeve. I don't shove it in people's faces."

Indeed, he has a reputation as an amiable man who can "disagree without being disagreeable," as the Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer once wrote. He also weeps easily, according to a profile in Time magazine, especially while giving heartfelt speeches on the House floor. "John's got the biggest heart in the House," U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told Time.

He also has close ties to lobbyists, is a chain smoker and a golf addict who likes a steak dinner and has been known to frequent bars in his off-hours in Washington.

Q&A: A profile of House speaker John Boehner 08/08/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 8, 2011 3:14pm]
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