Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday quizzed House Minority Leader John Boehner about his tan, dismissing, "...I have to note that if you do win and you do become Speaker, you will probably have the deepest tan of any Speaker in American history." He also wondered if this was something the Republican would have to "overcome."
The former Democratic operative turned journalist cited PPP, a Democratic polling firm, that queried voters about Boehner's tan: "And there's actually been a poll out in your state of Ohio, saying 30 percent of the voters think you spend too much time on your tan. And 27 percent don't like it. Is this something you have to overcome?" [MP3 audio here.]
However, when World News' Claire Shipman interviewed Nancy Pelosi on October 26, 2006, just prior to the Democratic take over of the House, the reporter mused, "Do you let yourself think, for example, maybe before you go to sleep at night, 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?"
Stephanopoulos on Wednesday asked the same question, but minus the flowery language: "Mr. Leader, how confident are you that you're going to be Speaker of the House next year?"
The host also pressed Boehner to condemn Terry Jones, a pastor in Florida who will be burning Korans on 9/11: "What is your message to Pastor Jones?"
Boehner responded by asserting that just because someone can do something, doesn't mean they should. That, apparently, wasn't enough for Stephanopoulos. He challenged, "So, you're telling him not to do it? Sir? Are you telling him not to do it?"
Yet, on the August 4 GMA, Stephanopoulos declared to conservative Laura Ingraham, "This is a country founded on the notion of religious freedom. What better way to say they [the terrorists] haven't won?"
A transcript of the September 8 segment, which aired at 7:11am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: As we said, the President will deliver what he hopes will be a tide-turning speech on the economy in Cleveland. And he is taking direct aim again at our next guest, top House Republican John Boehner.
BARACK OBAMA: And the Republican who thinks he's going to take over as Speaker- [Audience boos.] I'm just saying, that's his opinion. He's entitled to his opinion. But, but when he was asked about this, he dismissed those jobs, as government jobs that weren't worth saving.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And House Republican leader John Boehner, joins us now. Thank you, sir, for coming in this morning. You seem to be the President's new punching bag.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, George, I think it just shows how out of touch the White House is. You know, the American people are asking the question, where are the jobs? And yet, here's the White House worrying about what I've got to say instead of working together to get our economy going again and to get jobs back in America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the President is outlining proposals that Republicans have supported in the past. This permanent extension of the Research and Development Tax Credit. This expensing proposal, the small business tax cut of about $100 billion. Those are proposals Republicans have supported in the past. Will you support them now?
BOEHNER: George, I'm open to the President's ideas. But I think the President's missing the bigger point here. And that is, with all of the spending in Washington, and all the uncertainty facing small businesses, including the coming tax hikes on January the first, until this uncertainty and spending is under control, I don't think these are going to have much impact. And, so, today, what I'd like to do is work on a bipartisan basis to do two things: First, instead of waiting until after the election to put together some big omnibus spending bill, with a bunch of wasteful spending, why wouldn't we do this? Why don't we pass a bill this month at 2008 spending levels. You know, before the TARP, before the bailout, before the stimulus. And let's put some certainty in the economy. That in and of itself would save about $100 billion this year alone. And then, secondly, why wouldn't we work together to make it clear that all current tax rates will be extended for the next two years? What that will do-
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're open-
BOEHNER: What that will do is help small businesses who have no clue what the coming tax rates are going to be, gives them some certainty. And if we're able to do this together, I think we'll show the American people that we understand what's going on in the country. And we'll be able to get our economy moving again and get jobs growing in America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're open to the President's ideas. You're also making these two proposals of your own for the President. You talked about the two year extension of the Bush tax cuts. As you know, the President is against, right now, the extension for the wealthy. But his former budget director, Peter Orszag, made a similar proposal about the two year extension. But he said, but they have to expire in two years so we can reduce the deficit. Are you open to that part of it as well?
BOEHNER: George, we can't deal with the deficit until we're willing to get our arms around spending and have a strong economy. And you can't have a strong economy if you're raising taxes on the very people you expect to invest in our economy to begin hiring people again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Leader, how confident are you that you're going to be Speaker of the House next year?
BOEHNER: Well, certainly, George, it's possible. We've got a steep hill to climb. We have got a lot of work to do. But when I travel the country and I travel my district, I've never seen the American people more engaged in this election and any election in my lifetime. And, so, we've got a lot of work to do. That's our goal, though. To earn back the majority so we can renew our efforts to drive for a smaller, lest-costly and more accountable government in Washington, D.C.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you win, you will be third in line for the White House. Obviously, the eyes of the world will be on you. I wanted you to weigh in on an issue of national security implications, as well. We've seen this Pastor Terry Jones down in Florida, threatening to burn the Koran this weekend. This weekend, General Petraeus has spoken out against it. Secretary of State Clinton has spoken out against it. What is your message to Pastor Jones?
BOEHNER: To Pastor Jones and those who want to build a mosque, just because you have a right to do something in America, does not mean it is the right thing to do. We're a nation of religious freedom. We're also a nation of tolerance. And I think, in the name of tolerance, people ought to really think about the kind of actions they're taking.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're telling him not to do it? Sir? Are you telling him not to do it?
BOEHNER: Well, listen. I just think that it's not wise to do this in the face of what our country really represents. And over some, you know, 234 years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Before you go, I have to note that if you do win and you do become Speaker, you will probably have the deepest tan of any Speaker in American history. And there's actually been a poll out in your state of Ohio, saying 30 percent of the voters think you spend too much time on your tan. And 27 percent don't like it. Is this something you have to overcome?
BOEHNER: Well, hey probably weren't there yesterday, when I was out cutting my grass or when I was out riding my mountain bike. All right?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, no worries there?
BOEHNER: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Leader. No comment at all.