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

House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection 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.”

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

BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection 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 McCainBottom Line Beyond Manafort: Both parties deal with pro-Russian Ukrainians With help from US, transformative change in Iran is within reach 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 Obama21 state AGs denounce DeVos for ending student loan reform Obama to net 0K for Wall Street speech: report Trump’s wall jams GOP in shutdown talks 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.