House Speaker John Boehner didn’t watch last week’s Republican presidential debate, but he knows whom he wants to see in the next one: Govs. Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels.
Asked Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” if Christie would make a strong candidate, Boehner responded, “I do,” adding that the New Jersey governor “ has done a great job and he speaks English, which the American people like – English, like in plain talk.”
Then, without prompting, Boehner brought up the Indiana governor, who has been slightly warmer to a candidacy than Christie. “I think Mitch Daniels is looking at this seriously … [a] person with a track record of reform in his state, the kind of reforms we need in Washington, D.C.”
Boehner also weighed in on Newt Gingrich’s candidacy, due to officially launch on Wednesday, saying that his former colleague and predecessor as House speaker “brings a lot to the debate.” Donald Trump, meanwhile, would be one good candidate among many if he decides to run, Boehner said. “I would expect that we haven’t seen all of the candidates yet,” he said.
The speaker’s interview, conducted in-studio in New York, came the morning after he delivered a speech proposing that any increase in the debt ceiling be matched by a spending cut at least as large. “This is a window of opportunity for us to address the big challenges that face our country,” he said, yet again stressing that tax hikes are “off the table” in negotiations with Democrats.
Boehner also shrugged off criticism he’s gotten from some members of the tea party movement, who say he’s moved too far away from their fiscal principles in negotiating with President Barack Obama. “I’m a regular guy with a big job,” he said. “And I went to Washington 20 years ago because I thought government was too big, spent too much and wasn’t being held accountable. I don’t feel differently today. And this impending debt load on our kids has to be dealt with, and it will be dealt with.”
He also spoke about the killing of Osama bin Laden, saying the United States should reexamine its relationship with Pakistan, where the Al Qaeda leader spent several years in hiding.
“I see an ally but clearly there are questions that remain about what they knew or didn’t know about bin Laden being in their country,” he said. “I do trust them but I think it’s a moment when we need to look each other in the eye and decide are we real allies, are we going to work together? And if we are, either you’re all in or you’re not in.”
Pakistan, he added, “has been a real asset” in the war on terror.