Addressing Illinois delegates at a breakfast meeting Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner urged the state's Republicans to push hard to overcome challenges posed by a new congressional map meant to ensure Democratic victories.
The Ohio Republican, who described himself as "a regular guy with a big job," spent time in Illinois this month and saw firsthand the effects of the every-10-years redistricting, which was engineered by Illinois Democrats, the party in power in the state.
"They kind of went wild with the new (congressional) districts in Illinois," Boehner said of the map, which was fought, unsuccessfully, by Republicans in court. "They've done some overreaching. As a result, I think we've got some real opportunities. but we've got some tough races there."
Making sure the state's largely Republican congressional delegation gets re elected, Boehner said, is the only way to make sure Democrats don't regain control of the U.S. House.
"Nancy Pelosi will have to pry (the speaker's) gavel out of my stone cold hands," Boehner said, to rousing applause.
Boehner, speaking at the hotel where Illinois delegates to the Republican National Convention are staying, joked about mispronunciations of his name and praised the Republican ticket.
Heavily flanked by security, he came and left the ballroom at the Sheraton Sand Key resort in Clearwater Beach by a private entrance. He did not take questions from the press.
Along with outlining strategy for House races, he also praised the selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate. Ryan was a campaign volunteer for Boehner during college.
The House budgeteer, he said, "knows more about the economic battles that we're facing than anyone." The decision to tab Ryan, he said, shows Republicans are going to "be on offense" for the remainder of the campaign.
"We've got the perfect team heading into November," Boehner said, "But none of this is going to happen unless we all do our jobs to make sure they're going to be elected. That means knocking on doors, making the phone calls."