Boehner: ‘We are going to gain seats this year’

House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerWe need more congressional oversight on matters of war A warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker MORE (R-Ohio) predicted Thursday that Republicans will pick up seats in the 2008 election despite a slew of GOP retirements and the Democrats’ significant fundraising advantage.

“We don’t need as much money as [Democrats] have,” he said.  “We need enough to tell our story.”

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He added, “I think we are going to gain seats this year. Period.”

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerWe need more congressional oversight on matters of war A warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker MORE was not always so optimistic. Earlier this year, he reportedly told House GOP lawmakers to get off their “dead asses” and raise more money for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

And they did, Boehner said Thursday during a Christian Science Monitor luncheon.

“[Rep.] Ron Paul [R-Texas] wrote us a check for the first time ever,” he said.

Paul’s campaign office did not immediately return a call for comment.

At the end of February, the NRCC had $5.1 million cash on hand while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had $38 million.

DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell said, “Maybe Mr. Boehner forgot that April Fool’s Day was Tuesday. Democrats are again on the offense this cycle prepared to challenge Republicans and their numerous 527 allies in districts across the country this November.”

Boehner said Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State Arizona GOP blocked from changing rules on filling McCain's seat MORE’s (R-Ariz.) presidential candidacy would be an asset for House Republicans.

Boehner brushed aside suggestions that the parade of GOP retirees was a sign of impending doom in November. Twenty-nine House Republicans are not seeking reelection.

“Most of those retirees are in safe seats,” he said, noting that vulnerable open seats would have been tough to hold with or without an incumbent running.

“There are some retirements that were probably good…good for the member and good for the seat,” he said. 

Asked who was best suited to join McCain on the Republican ticket, Boehner said the running mate must be younger than McCain, have solid credentials and be someone whom voters believe could be president.

“[The running mate is] probably not going to be from the Congress,” he said, adding that a former administration official or a governor would be a more likely choice.

He declined to comment on specific individuals.

Boehner said it made little difference to Republicans whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) or Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDems flip New York state seat that Republicans have held for nearly four decades Trump denies clemency to 180 people Mellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… MORE (D-Ill.) wins the Democratic nomination but that the outcome would prove divisive for congressional Democrats.

“It is a problem because one side is going to be sorely disappointed,” he said. “The longer this goes on …there are going to be some very disappointed people.”

Boehner also shared an unusual story during the luncheon about his recent trip to Libya and a meeting with Libya President Moammar Gadhafi.

The two leaders were mid-meeting inside a white tent in the desert when Gadhafi directed one of his aides to bring him the case for the sunglasses he was wearing, Boehner said.  When the aide brought the case, he removed the glasses, cleaned them and then offered them to Boehner.

“The desert is not kind to blues eyes so I had these sunglasses on,” Boehner said.

When Boehner attempted to return the glasses, Gadhafi insisted that he keep them.