The economy won’t improve unless candidates with private-sector experience like Chris Collins and Mitt Romney win election next month, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Saturday at a Republican rally in Lancaster.
Boehner came here to boost the campaign of the former Erie County executive, who is engaged in a fierce fight with Democratic Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, and to thank the volunteers working at a GOP phone bank in the Tops plaza on Transit Road.
“What you’re doing out there today, building on the momentum from the debate the other night, is going to go a long way in helping Chris get elected and Mitt Romney becoming our next president,” Boehner said to a crowd of about 100.
The Ohio Republican and other speakers blasted President Obama and his fellow Democrats for neglecting the economy in favor of passing what they called flawed health care legislation and for demeaning the role played by small-business owners in creating jobs.
Collins thanked Boehner for his support and said he and his campaign team are working hard to win over voters in the sprawling, GOP-friendly congressional district. “All of our counties are united in this effort. We’re going to put this in the win column,” he said.
Collins is locked in a tight race with Hochul, D-Hamburg, who won her seat in a special election last year.
Boehner last visited Western New York in May 2011, when he headlined a fundraiser for Hochul’s foe in a special election, Jane L. Corwin.
The Republicans lost that election, but Boehner expressed optimism about Collins’ chances after bounding on stage in front of a lively crowd on a sunny but brisk fall morning. “This is a campaign we’re going to win,” Boehner said.
He sharply criticized the president for remarks that appeared to diminish the contributions of small-business owners in building their companies.
Boehner pointed out he was a small-business owner before entering politics and said he – like Collins – has known what it’s like to worry whether your company will make payroll.
This private-sector experience will help the Republicans fix the mess left behind by the president, the speaker said.
Nicholas A. Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee, warmed up the crowd and emphasized the importance of the volunteers’ work in defeating Hochul, Obama and U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in “the election of a lifetime.”
Edward F. Cox, the chairman of the state Republican committee, went over what he considers the major failings of the two years after Obama’s inauguration when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. “What a hash they made of it,” Cox said.
He added that the strong showing for Republican candidates in 2010 – including the party’s gain of six House seats in New York – bodes well for next month’s elections.
Collins, for his part, criticized his opponent – who served as Erie County clerk and as a member of the Hamburg Town Board – for her years of drawing a government paycheck.
“That’s the difference in Kathy and myself,” Collins said.
After Boehner spoke, he posed for pictures and shook hands with attendees as rock music blared from speakers.
He then went inside the phone bank, one of nearly 40 “victory centers” established to spur turnout in high-priority races for the Republican Party.
Boehner took a handful of questions from reporters and said Friday’s jobs report – unemployment dipped in September to its lowest level in 44 months – doesn’t change his party’s message. “While the unemployment rate came down, we could be doing a lot better,” Boehner said.
While Collins has embraced the help of Boehner and other national Republicans, it’s unlikely that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Boehner’s predecessor as speaker, will campaign in the GOP-leaning district.
But the Hochul camp responded to Boehner’s visit by issuing a pair of critical news releases. One blasted the speaker for ending the House session last month without passing a new farm bill and the other noted that Collins’ companies have received millions of dollars in government loans, federal contracts and stimulus aid.
“Today, during an event for Chris Collins, John Boehner touted his small-business credentials and the fact that he had not received government loans as things to be proud of. Little did he know that Chris Collins, his endorsed candidate, has received more than $20 million in various kinds of government support,” the Hochul “Fact Check” statement said.