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John Boehner talks election, time in office
Former Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke with David M. Kennedy, history professor emeritus, yesterday evening (NAFIA CHOWDHURY/The Stanford Daily). Photo available here.

John Boehner talks election, time in office

“You can call me boner, beaner, jackass, happy to answer to almost anything,” said former Speaker of the House John Boehner as he took the stage at CEMEX Auditorium on Wednesday evening. Boehner joined David M. Kennedy, faculty director and history professor emeritus, in a talk hosted by Stanford in Government (SIG) and the Stanford Speakers Bureau.

This joking yet blunt attitude set the tone for the night as Kennedy and the former Speaker discussed topics ranging from Boehner’s upbringing in Ohio to the future of the Republican Party. For the second half of the program, Kennedy opened up the floor to student questions.

2016 presidential election

Much of the discussion — and laughs — focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former Speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

In his comments at Stanford, former Speaker of the House John Boehner referred to Ted Cruz as "Lucifer in the flesh" and Donald Trump as a "texting buddy." Photo by Nafia Chowdhury (Nafia Chowdhury)

In his comments at Stanford, former Speaker of the House John Boehner referred to Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” and Donald Trump as a “texting buddy.” (NAFIA CHOWDHURY/The Stanford Daily)

Boehner described other Republican candidates as friends. In particular, he said he has played golf with Donald Trump for years and that they were “texting buddies.”

His friendship with Ohio Governor John Kasich, however, was a little more ambiguous.

“[Kasich] requires more effort on my behalf than all my other friends … but he’s still my friend, and I love him,” Boehner said.

Boehner for the most part accepted Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, though he did express his surprise at the candidate’s success. While he did not praise Trump’s policies, the former Speaker did say he would vote for Trump in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee. He said he would not, however, vote for Cruz.

When it came to the Democrat primaries, Boehner asserted his belief that although Bernie Sanders has put up a significant fight, Hillary Clinton will win the nomination. While stating that he disagreed with Sanders on all the issues, he also called Sanders a nice guy and the most honest politician in the race.

On Clinton, Boehner’s reviews were more mixed. Early in the talk, he impersonated Clinton, saying “Oh, I’m a woman, vote for me,” to a negative crowd reaction. Later, he added that he had known Clinton for 25 years and finds her to be very accomplished and smart.

Boehner also speculated about surprises that could come closer to the Democratic National Convention if Hillary Clinton’s emails became a larger scandal.

“Don’t be shocked … if two weeks before the convention, here comes Joe Biden parachuting in and Barack Obama fanning the flames to make it all happen,” Boehner said.

Time in office

Kennedy also spent a large portion of the talk asking the former Speaker about his time in office and his relationship with President Obama. Having been elected to office 13 times — a number which he was quick to clarify with Kennedy — Boehner said he had learned a lot from previous Speakers, including Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi.

Throughout the talk, Boehner frequently referenced the Freedom Caucus as the “knuckleheads” and “goofballs” in Congress. When Kennedy asked about the Democrats in Congress, Boehner asserted that both parties have their own inner divisions.

“The thing that’s different about Republicans and Democrats is that [Democrats] do their fights behind closed doors,” he said. “Republicans are way too independent for that.”

Although he talked about the challenges of working with a partisan, gridlocked Congress, Boehner reflected positively on his relationship with Obama. Although he acknowledged that the two disagree, Boehner said the two get along well.

Boehner described his days in office as fairly repetitive and very busy. He would wake up around 5:30 a.m., walk to Starbucks for coffee, then return home to do some morning reading. He would go into the office around 8 a.m., and “then it was like a sprint all day long.” According to Boehner, however, he always made sure to go home by 10 p.m.

“I think my proudest accomplishment is walking out of there the same jackass I was 25 years before,” Boehner said.

In speaking of his retirement, the former Speaker said he didn’t regret a thing. As a Catholic, Boehner said it was particularly moving to meet Pope Francis when he spoke to Congress. Boehner resigned the following day.

Student reactions

When the floor was opened for student questions, questions ranged from asking Boehner to push for the censure of former Speaker Dennis Hastert to his opinions on the future of the Republican Party.

Brandon Camhi ’16 asked Boehner about how he would prevent more socially progressive conservatives from becoming disillusioned with the Republican Party.

“If I were running for president, I’d be running on things that unite Republicans,” Boehner said. “These other issues are just going to keep coming up, and the Democrats know where our soft spots are.”

According to Camhi, this was as much as he expected the former Speaker to be able to answer his question.

“He said as much as he’s going to say, and what he said is true,” Camhi said. “The Republican Party has to move away from divisive social issues.”

More generally, Camhi was surprised by how candidly Boehner spoke. According to Alex Lee ’18, who attended the smaller reception with Boehner after the event as a member of the Stanford Speakers Bureau, this same candor was present in his personal conversations as well.

According to Lee, it was also interesting to have a minority political opinion being represented on Stanford’s predominantly liberal campus.

“I could [feel] the tension in the room when Boehner said certain things, namely claiming that Clinton was leveraging her gender or discussing South Carolina bathrooms,” Lee said.

At the end of the discussion, Kennedy re-focused the talk by asking Boehner who his political heroes were. In his answer, Boehner re-emphasized his own relatively moderate stances within the Republican Party.

“Well you know I’m a big fan of Ronald Reagan,” Boehner said. “But I love all these knuckleheads talking about the party of Reagan. He would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”


Contact Ada Statler-Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Ada Statler

Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.
  • RalphEllison
  • MOE

    Next time this jackass calls someone Lucifer, he should look in the mirror. Talk about a SOB.

  • TexasRedbud

    My first thought, is it OK if we call him loser.?

  • 2150dalek

    Boehner, go smoke some more, f#cking croak from lung disease you worthless P.O.S.

  • Fred

    Boehner wants Biden to run for President – Does Boehner know Biden is a Democrat or is Boehner so used to doing what Democrats want that he thinks he is a Democrat?

  • Fred

    Satanists are furious that Boehner compared Ted Cruz to the Dark Lord

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    “O. Sorry. I should have said ‘passive aggressive a * s h o l e!’ ”
    Again, very inspirational opening line.
    You do realize that we are typing and reading – not speaking, don’t you? Your lips are moving as you read; that’s a given, of course, due to your genetic breeding. Still, when one types, one cannot say anything. And be heard.
    Are you hearing voices again?
    What did your Mama and your Preacher tell you to do when you heard those voices, Pilgrim?
    Hasn’t your poor Mama suffered enough? Why do you continue to torture that beleaguered woman?

  • Andrew

    My good friend, I couldn’t agree with you more. But unfortunately, you are a victim of over-affiliation with politics. So, now that you are browsing replies to a comment that has such a sick environment, do you think that your voice will possibly be loud enough to get it through their thick skulls what you want to say? Honestly, the world doesn’t give a shit what we both think, except for other treehuggers like me who deserve just as well to go to hell for my beliefs. So I’m sorry. It’s best you express your political views on same-sex marriage elsewhere. But don’t forget that I agree with your point.

  • Nancy Wesley

    God! I think all of these guys belong in the play ground you have Boehner calling Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh, and Trump calling Kasich a slob how far down can this country go.

  • brian110256

    he gave Obama everything he wanted for over 6 years that is why the media has befriended him the media would of forgotten about him by now if he would of ever told Obama no on anything

  • brian110256

    who in their right minds would ever consider joe the court jester biden he is worst than Hillary if trump is the nominee which he should be Hillary will start falling in the polls and by election time will be at least 10 points down and if the republican base comes out and votes will win by a landslide

  • Larry Gibb

    Dear John;

    Nobody is listening.


    US Citizens

  • Mister McMurphy

    “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me
    than a frontal lobotomy..tee hee hee” >J.B.

  • Hans Pcguy

    Joe Biden won’t run against a Clinton because he values his life!
    If Bernie would have done better he would have had a “heart attack” and everyone would just say, “well he was old”.

  • geo

    The media likes him because as long as he continues to speak he makes the Republicans look bad.

  • Mawgscousin

    Boehner is a RINO through and through. Gutless, hates Conservatives and will do anything to look good with the media. A joke.

  • Time Will Tell

    Ty you got a lot to learn. GMO food from Monsatan puts poison in your belly rather than growing your own food and taking personal responsibility. Penn will learn later on in life when hes fighting colon cancer that the GMO food he says is good was what ends his life early…

  • Ham12

    It is too bad that this drunk is even given a interview. Who cares what he thinks.

  • catinpvb

    Amazing how deep is Repub ‘Elite’ treason. They would have the ‘Left’ pick the next ‘Supreme Court Justice’ – and then, ‘how many more’? Add here, further securing of America-damning, Radical Left’ Governance; ‘rather than’. . .have Donald Trump or Cruz (or any – not ‘just Bush’ – earlier Repub candidates) as President? Would these Repub-e’s, survive their own traitorous interests? They appear to believe so.

    The American People – For America – are screaming, ‘NOOOOOO’. . . Hear them, John Boehner. . .and All the rest of the GOP Washington cadre. Be quiet, or ‘Be Gone’.

  • catinpvb

    By whatever measure; the ‘et tu Brute’ for Hillary, most likely, will appear; by Obama ‘hand’. . .and in Obama ‘time’. No ‘rest for the weary’ and no relaxing, when you live in the Left’s Den of Thieves.

  • Boehner would probably make a very good choice as a running mate for Biden … peas in a pod and all that? They may be left and right wings on the same bird but still part of the same establishment.

  • LumpyMcLumpston

    Who scraped John off the barroom floor?

  • p3orion

    John Boehner loves Donald Trump and can’t stand Ted Cruz…
    could the Cruz campaign ask for a better endorsement?

  • p3orion

    “CA voted against gay marriage. A judge overruled the people.”

    And why is it they’re called the “Democratic” party?

  • Les Legato

    ““You can call me boner, beaner, jackass, happy to answer to almost anything,”

    How about Obama-licking traitor?

    The day boehner hangs himself will be a major holiday.

  • Bulldog

    The thought of “Plug head” Biden as president, is the finest purgative known to man.

  • VP Biden would of had been the best choice to begin with. Hillary and Bernie are toast, but Biden is an intelligent and well qualified politician with ideas for both parties.

  • 2016=1984

    Bahahahaha!!! You are joking, right?

  • Negative. Biden spent many years in the Senate, and is familiar with the procedures. Hillary is a murderer, Bernie is a nice cold guy. That is all they have. Jim Webb was a potential candidate and had Viet Nam experience that would of had crossed political lines, but he declined.

  • JustsayNO

    Funny, Denny Hastert former speaker of the house just got sentenced to jail for pedophilia. Boehner, cruz, gingrich, pelosi, reid, mcdonnel, etc seem to be in ONE BIG PSYCHOPATH CLUB.

  • daibutsu

    I’m not so sure that Ol’ Joe really likes or respects the Clown-in-chief.

  • st8kout1 .

    Boehner? Who cares about Boehner.

  • oconnor5450

    Clearly drunk. Nothing new for him.

  • BerettaStorm

    Word has it that Boehner just has to suck off Biden ten more times and he’ll run.

  • Mick O’Kelley

    Well — read this.

    When and if you learn the difference between “you’re” and “your” — then — maybe — you won’t look like such a moron.

    Wow. A “Mama” attack — from one of the the most civil, inclusive and sensitive people (Lib-tards) on earth? How gauche. How very gauche.

    That was the weakest attack since “Milquetoast” Mitt Romney went after Trump — virtually guaranteeing him the presidency:

    After convincing victories in Tuesday’s primaries in five East Coast states, Trump has roughly 10.1 million votes, about 200,000 more than Mitt Romney got during the entire 2012 primary campaign.

    And with the primaries ahead — including in populous states such as California, New Jersey and Indiana — the former “Apprentice” ­reality TV star should easily break the modern record of 10.8 million held by George W. Bush in 2000.

  • Mick O’Kelley


    So now you just make stuff up? How’s that working out for ya?

    Cruz is a good man — but it is not his time. And he continues to diminish himself with nasty and desperate attacks on the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

    For the record — Trump will break all records for R vote totals when all is said and done. And Bonehead has endorsed Ryan.

    After convincing victories in Tuesday’s primaries in five East Coast states, Trump has roughly 10.1 million votes, about 200,000 more than Mitt Romney got during the entire 2012 primary campaign.

    And with the primaries ahead — including in populous states such as California, New Jersey and Indiana — the former “Apprentice” ­reality TV star should easily break the modern record of 10.8 million held by George W. Bush in 2000.

    Former Speaker of the House John Boehner has endorsed current Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for president, in the event that no Republican candidate achieves a majority on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

    Politico reports that Boehner, speaking at a conference in Boca Raton, Florida, said: “If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above. They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.”

  • Nosmo King

    Biden is far more preferable to Hillary or Trump

  • Trexinator

    An obvious pompous ass displaying that power corrupts.

  • Central VA

    Boehner is so irrelevant. Please go cry on a golf course somewhere in your home state. He is largely responsible for the free-wheeling boy child and his executive orders. Boehner gave up control of everything in Hussein’s second year and it has been on a downhill slope since. Boehner can count himself responsible for half of Trump’s supporters.

  • Central VA

    Please forward your note to Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, THE Koch Brothers, Silicon Valley!

  • Central VA

    The boy child said in a national interview on Fox 2 weeks ago there will be no indictment and there was no crime. (sarc) So, we need to accept his word as truth. He still rules.

  • Nosmo King

    Why does anyone bother to quote Boehner the DRUNK???

  • curious

    “Well you know I’m a big fan of Ronald Reagan,” Boehner said. “But I love all these knuckleheads talking about the party of Reagan. He would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”

    Now that’s rewriting history. The man was the most conservative president elected since the depression. You did not see him add any more benefits to the masses.

  • curious

    Lying Ted agrees

  • curious

    You need to ready the other side to be informed.

  • bg

    ha. loser? if you can accomplish a tiny fraction of what he accomplished in his life you can talk about “losers.” otherwise, youre opinion is basically worthless. however, this post does pretty much sum up the attitude in the republican party right now, which is quite pathetic. the best you can do is insult someone with zero backing in reality and ignoring what an insider has to say about the candidates, and the government in general. his insight is more valuable than anything you could possibly say, and the fact you dismiss it with (again) no reasons based in actual reality, proves your ignorance.

  • Lisa Kullberg White

    Boehner. is the best reason to vote for Cruz.

  • Mick O’Kelley

    I accuse you — of a wasted life.

    You spend your time combating the ‘ruling elite”? You may as well tilt at windmills. Or go ‘wrassle” Big Foot.

    If you took all the money in the world — and divided equally among everyone — 99% of the people who have it now would have it then. Some people win, and some lose. When you rail on ghostly apparitions like the “ruling elite” — you are a loser.

    Of course I understand RINOs can be almost as bad as the Pinko Dems. That is the whole essence of the TEA Party.

    I am for economic, social and military nationalism. Borders, language and culture are what matters. Once we solidify that under President Donald J. Trump, and you work your f * c k i n g ass off? YOU will be part of the “ruling elite” — according to someone like Bernie “Tuna stain on my tie” Sanders. When he comes for 90% of what you have built with your bare hands, ingenuity, and maybe a little luck — then we can talk.

  • PatsFan

    Yea, you REALLY are a mouth breathing a** clown.

  • Dakota

    I don’t understand why the left and right political parties hate Trump so much. He will do what ever they tell him to do just like the rest of them have after the election. If not, he will get the JFK treatment for not obeying.