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House members elect their respective party leaders. The majority party’s top leader becomes the speaker, who wields enormous influence over legislation and follows the vice president in the line of presidential succession.

Mr. Boehner scoffs at suggestions that the “young guns” might undermine his leadership.

“They are some of our brightest, most energetic members,” he said in a telephone interview between campaign stops for House candidates in the Dakotas. He praised, without fully endorsing, Mr. Ryan’s much-debated proposals to replace the corporate income tax with a consumption tax and to transform Medicare over time into a voucher program that wouldn’t keep pace with rising health care costs.

Mr. Ryan’s road map “is very good work,” Mr. Boehner said. He added that he doesn’t agree with everything Mr. Ryan proposes.

Republican strategist and lobbyist John Feehery, who worked for former Speaker Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said Mr. Boehner will have to cope with “a bunch of rambunctious new members.” He predicts partisan gridlock, but he said Mr. Boehner can lead his party and its young cadre of firebreathers effectively.

“He provides adult leadership,” Mr. Feehery said.

On the surface, Mr. Boehner is a Washington throwback. He loves golf and cocktails. He is genial and courteous to almost everyone, including reporters and Democratic staffers. He constantly smokes Barclay cigarettes, even during meetings in his Capitol office. And he maintains a remarkably deep tan, which Mr. Obama and others have gently mocked.

The second of 12 children in a Catholic family from Cincinnati, Mr. Boehner played high school football and helped at his father’s bar and restaurant. He worked his way through college, sometimes as a janitor, graduating from Xavier University at age 27. He rose to the top of a plastics distribution company and entered Republican politics in his hometown.

While clearly a conservative, Mr. Boehner sometimes has worked with Democrats to enact major legislation. Notable examples include his 2001 collaboration with Kennedy and Rep. George Miller, California Democrat, now a top Pelosi ally, to pass President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education bill.

In 2008, Mr. Boehner was embarrassed when he failed to corral enough GOP votes to help the Democratic majority pass an early version of the financial bailout bill. The Dow plunged 780 points that day.

The often-emotional GOP leader seemed to choke back tears when he asked colleagues to search their souls for the nation’s best interests.

The episode might suggest that Mr. Boehner is a bit less rigidly partisan than some of his fellow GOP leaders. Most House Republicans opposed the bailout bill that he backed.

Mr. Hastert, as speaker, had a “majority of the majority” rule. He would not push major legislation unless most of his GOP caucus supported it, rendering the Democratic minority almost superfluous.

Mr. Boehner says he would want to “make sure our team is supportive” of big bills, but he stopped short of embracing Mr. Hastert’s rule. “All members should have a role in the legislative process,” Mr. Boehner said.

Even a whiff of bipartisan cooperation angers some tea-party supporters, and Mr. Boehner might clash with the newest and most ideological House Republicans. But in other respects, they might be kindred souls.

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