Are Republican convention and platform too long? John Boehner thinks so.

House Speaker John Boehner suggests that both party conventions (three days) and platforms (60 pages) need to be downsized to make them more accessible to average Americans.

Sarah Beth Glicksteen/Special to the Christian Science Monitor
House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio speaks at a Monitor-hosted lunch at Roy's Restaurant in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, August 27.

House Speaker John Boehner, chairman of the Republican National Convention, says both conventions and party platforms would be better if they were shorter.

Mr. Boehner, the top-ranking Republican in Washington, was dismissive of the party platform that was completed last week under the direction of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Republican Party platform chair.

“Have you ever met anybody who has read the party platform? I’ve not ever met anybody. It ought to be on one sheet of paper. And guess what? I was on this kick about at least eight or 12 years ago that we ought to have a one-page party platform, and that way Americans could actually read it. Might be willing to – might.”

Appearing relaxed in a sports coat but no tie, Boehner met with reporters for lunch hosted by the Monitor at a Tampa, Fla.-area restaurant.

The Republican platform was in the news last week because the group drafting the document met after Missouri Rep. Todd Akin made controversial comments about rape. The 2012 GOP platform contains a plank calling for banning abortions without including a specific exception in the case of rape or incest.

Boehner also joined those who say the actual business done at conventions is spread over too many days. "These are very expensive propositions to put on. I think that given as much news as people get today and the way they get their news, I'm not sure that having a four-day convention for the future makes a lot of sense.”

The current GOP convention in Tampa was shortened from four days to three when tropical storm Isaac swept past the waterside city. Party Chairman Reince Priebus called the convention to order at 2 p.m. Monday and then immediately recessed. The convention will resume on Tuesday with Isaac threatening to make landfall near New Orleans.

Boehner opened the gathering with reporters by stressing his commitment to retaining the Republicans’ majority in the House. “My goal is [to] gain seats,” he said. “We’re on offense and I’m going to keep our team on offense all the way through Election Day.”

When the speaker was asked what could be done to improve the public’s view of Congress, he offered a spirited defense of his colleagues of both parties that was laced with humor.

“Congress has been America's favorite whipping boy for 200 years and I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. And then secondly, with 435 members and on any given day some of them are out doing things they probably shouldn't be doing. It's a fact," he said.

But Boehner added, “I know my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And while there may be differences between some Democrats and Republicans … 99 percent of my colleagues are decent, honest people trying to do the right thing for the country. But we work in a setting that makes it very difficult for people to see that.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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