John Boehner

Would-be Speaker Boehner raising his profile

By Charles Babington-Associated Press

John A. Boehner could walk down most American streets without turning a head.

But the perpetually tanned, chain-smoking Ohioan might be the next House speaker and a huge force in national politics, trying to manage an increasingly libertarian-leaning Republican caucus while leading the opposition to President Obama‘s policies.

For those who know Mr. Boehner, the question is which version of the House Republican leader will emerge as speaker if the GOP takes at least 40 seats from Democrats in November.

Will it be the policy-minded lawmaker who sometimes shows bipartisan tendencies, such as when he worked with the now-deceased Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on major education bills?

Or will it be the fiery partisan of recent months who shouted “hell no” to Mr. Obama‘s health care bill and who threw the Democrats’ massive economic stimulus bill to the House floor in a theatrical rebuke?

Mr. Boehner left little doubt that the president and other Democrats will face fierce resistance in the House if he is speaker, starting with a push to dismantle Mr. Obama‘s hard-fought health care law.

“We’re going to do everything we can to prevent this law from being implemented, and I mean everything,” Mr. Boehner said in a recent interview. “I think it will ruin health care and bankrupt the country.”

In truth, Mr. Obama‘s veto powers will make it virtually impossible to repeal the law. Still, Mr. Boehner said, he would use every parliamentary and appropriations trick available, including making sure “they don’t get the funds to hire employees to implement the law.”

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