NBC's Lauer to Boehner: 'Isn't It Hard to Run Against A Recovering Economy?'

In an interview with House Speaker John Boehner aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer depicted the November election as a futile effort for the GOP: "[The economy] does put some Republicans in a difficult position. You've got better job numbers, you've got better manufacturing numbers. Consumer debt is down. Consumer confidence is up. Isn't it hard to run against a recovering economy?"

Moments earlier, Boehner explained: "I would argue that it should be doing a lot better. It's doing better in spite of what Washington is doing to the economy." Later, Lauer quipped: "Is that – and I hate to, you know, condense things to bumper stickers – is that the slogan, 'It can be better'?"

Continuing to push the idea that Republicans chances of winning the presidency were slim, Lauer wondered: "When you hear some prominent conservatives saying, 'The White House is not where we should be focusing, because we may lose that. Focus on these congressional and senatorial races,' do you like that thinking at this stage of the game?"

Lauer began the interview by asking about the Supreme Court hearing arguments "on the President's health reform law." Boehner replied in part: "All I know is that when I talk to employers around my district, they're concerned that ObamaCare is getting in the way of them hiring more people."

Lauer sounded like a White House spokesman as he took issue with the "ObamaCare" nickname for the law: "You call it ObamaCare every time I hear you talk. Why don't you call it what you called it when you debated it, the Affordable Care Act?" Boehner shot back: "I don't know. Because everybody calls it ObamaCare. Now even the President's calling it ObamaCare."

Near the end of the exchange, Lauer urged Boehner to talk about friendly he was with Obama: "You disagree with the President on a lot of key issues. As a guy, though, as a person, do you get along with him?"

Boehner explained: "...we have our disagreements. We know we come from different parties. We come from different backgrounds. We have different ideas about what the appropriate role of the federal government is. But having said that, we get along just fine. And we have a good personal relationship."

After that setup, Lauer then hit him with: "So how are you going to react when he runs for re-election against the do-nothing Congress? And you know that's what's going to happen."


Here is a full transcript of the March 28 interview:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: House Speaker John Boehner opens up about the GOP field and his relationship with President Obama in an exclusive interview.     

7:17AM ET SEGMENT:

LAUER: Now our exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner. We sat down on Tuesday to discuss a wide range of topics, including the state of the economic recovery, and the GOP presidential race. Mr. Speaker, it's good to see you.

JOHN BOEHNER: Matt, nice to see you.

LAUER: It's a busy day in Washington. Basically across the street from us here, the justices of the Supreme Court are listening to oral arguments on the President's health reform law. Are you monitoring that on an hour by hour basis? Do you get reports? Do you hear snippets of the arguments? The comments from the justices?

BOEHNER: No.

LAUER: No? You don't care.

BOEHNER: I've got a big job here. And you know, the court will hear their arguments. The court will make a decision. All I know is that when I talk to employers around my district, they're concerned that ObamaCare is getting in the way of them hiring more people.

LAUER: You call it ObamaCare every time I hear you talk. Why don't you call it what you called it when you debated it, the Affordable Care Act?

BOEHNER: I don't know. Because everybody calls it ObamaCare. Now even the President's calling it ObamaCare.

LAUER: I want to ask you about some of these people running on the Republican side, because you know them.

BOEHNER: I know them.

LAUER: And you have experience with them. Rick Santorum, you served in Congress with. What do you think is the most important characteristic he possesses that would make him a good leader of this country?

BOEHNER: Listen, I know all four of them very well. I've not involved myself in the presidential primaries. I've got a big job to do here in the Capitol. Voters around the country who choose to vote in Republican primaries will pick one of these candidates. And whoever that candidate is, I will support.

LAUER: Let me try a different tack with you then, as you smile. You were a guy with a great story. One of 12 children, started with very little worked your way through school to this office, where we are sitting today. What is Governor Romney's most compelling story? When people look at him and say, "Why can I connect with him? Why can he identify with him? What do you think is compelling about his story?"

BOEHNER: Well, I think his business background is probably his strongest suit. He was a very successful businessman. Understands how our economy works. And in a time when the American people are asking, "Where are the jobs?," I think that it may be the strongest point that he brings.

LAUER: You talk about the economy. Is it recovering?

BOEHNER: It is.

LAUER: So, you give-

BOEHNER: There's certainly signs of life.

LAUER: Better job-

BOEHNER: But I would argue – but I would argue that it should be doing a lot better. It's doing better in spite of what Washington is doing to the economy.

LAUER: But it does put some Republicans in a difficult position. You've got better job numbers, you've got better manufacturing numbers. Consumer debt is down. Consumer confidence is up. Isn't it hard to run against a recovering economy?

BOEHNER: Yeah, but – no, but Matt, my point is, it should be doing better.

LAUER: Is that – and I hate to, you know, condense things to bumper stickers – is that the slogan, "It can be better"?

BOEHNER: It should be better.

LAUER: When you hear some prominent conservatives saying, "The White House is not where we should be focusing, because we may lose that. Focus on these congressional and senatorial races," do you like that thinking at this stage of the game?

BOEHNER: No. I don't. If you really want to help win the White House, you go out and win more congressional races, you win more Senate races, you turn more Republicans and Republican voters out around the country, we'll win the White House.

LAUER: You disagree with the President on a lot of key issues. As a guy, though, as a person, do you get along with him?

BOEHNER: We get along great. We really do.

LAUER: How important is that?

BOEHNER: We have – we have our disagreements. We know we come from different parties. We come from different backgrounds. We have different ideas about what the appropriate role of the federal government is. But having said that, we get along just fine. And we have a good personal relationship. And I think that's important in this town.

LAUER: So how are you going to react when he runs for re-election against the do-nothing Congress? And you know that's what's going to happen.

BOEHNER: Listen, we have passed bill after bill here to get our economy going again. There are 40 bills sitting over in the United States Senate. The House has done its work. This week, we're going to be passing a budget. We're going to lay out our vision for how we get America back on track. How we bring prosperity back to our country. How we save the next generation. We've done our job every year. It's been over three years since the United States Senate has done a budget. This is totally irresponsible.

LAUER: John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.    

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC