FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — House Speaker John Boehner hasn't forgotten the help he got from the Ohio college student who staked up the campaign signs during Boehner's first congressional run. Twenty years later, that student, Paul Ryan, is the Republican candidate for vice president.

"I couldn't be more proud of our ticket," Boehner, R-Ohio, said Monday during a breakfast fundraiser for Jason Plummer, the GOP nominee for an open southern Illinois congressional seat.

Boehner said Democrats were "almost gleeful" that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had chosen Ryan as a running mate as he opposes President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

"But I'll tell you what – I'll put Paul Ryan in a debate with Joe Biden any day," Boehner said.

He likened the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman's charisma and good looks to John F. Kennedy's, never mind that Kennedy won the White House in 1960 as a Massachusetts Democrat.

Boehner called Romney's choice of the seven-term congressman "pretty bold" – evoking applause from the roughly 500 people attending the Plummer campaign event in this St. Louis suburb – in light of the "safer choices Gov. Romney could have taken, but he didn't."

Boehner said he considers Ryan, the House budget chairman, well-suited for the job.

"There's nobody who knows more about the debt crisis we face than Paul Ryan," he said.

Romney's confidence in Ryan, Boehner submitted, shows Republicans, independents "and, frankly, President Obama, we're on offense."

Boehner took a political jab at Obama, reciting the portion of the July 13 speech in which the president remarked, "If you've got a business – you didn't build that." While the context of Obama's remarks showed that he was referring to teachers, infrastructure and other factors he said play a role in a person's business success, the House speaker repeated the Republican view that Obama was being dismissive of the efforts of business people.

Having once run a small business in the plastics and packaging industry, Boehner quipped that while he was lying in bed worrying about such things as accounts receivable, "I don't remember Barack Obama lying next to me, holding my hand."

Boehner said that Obama's policies haven't worked "because the president doesn't understand how the real world we live in really works."

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  • Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.

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  • Astronaut Neil Armstrong (L) recievces the Congressional Gold Medal from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) during a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol November 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. The gold medals were presented to Armstrong and his fellow crew members from Apollo 11, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, and to astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio), the first American to orbit the Earth.

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