Yet Mr Boehner’s life story is the type of classic up-by-the-bootstraps tale of the American Dream that can put a tear in a voter’s eye. As his story becomes better known, the Democrats could even be drawing favourable attention upon him. Right now, most Americans have never heard of Mr Boehner, and fewer still can pronounce his name, which rhymes with Rayner. The alleged elitist country club Republican is an Ohio Congressman who grew up in near poverty.
His sister Lynda Meineke, who is 51, is a waitress and bar tender at Andy’s Cafe in Carthage, Ohio, a family business that was founded by their grandfather Andy Boehner in 1938. As a child, one of Mr Boehner’s jobs was to mop the floor.
Sitting outside the bar this week, sipping a bottle of Bud Light and smoking a cigarette, Mrs Meineke described her childhood as “cramped” but happy. “We learned how to share. If there was a toy, it wasn’t just for you but for all the younger ones.”
Mr Boehner, 61, is the second of 12 who grew up in a German-Irish family in Reading, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. All but two of them still live within a few miles of each other. Two are unemployed and most of the others have blue-collar jobs.