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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.
  • Dakota

    That has to be a joke, right?

  • Red47

    The game is played that way. If they weren’t “friends” Trump Inc. wouldn’t be able to get anything done. It’s all pay to play.

  • Red47

    Who gives a flying f&@:&$.

  • Red47

    You are still repeating talking points. Where have you been all your life? Business people have to have a lobby or they are chosen as losers. The great bailouts of 2008-9 come to mind. Can you say Solyndra? How about the administration’s lackey pulling dealerships of those who were Republicans and leaving the Dems when they restructured GM? It would be lovely of politicians weren’t for sale. Our system would work properly.

  • Maximus

    Ah…one of the top contributors to the betrayal of the Republican party is Trump’s best chum. It figures. Why on earth would anyone listen to this guy who did nothing but play bedfellow o the puppet masters of the establishment. Trumpsters, this is your smoking gun. Proof that Trump will be an establishment hack and give us another four years of crony capitalism in government.

  • Thomas

    Tell me whether any of the issues I raised are lies? Hiding behind the retort of “talking points” since no reasonable rebuttal. Trump is a sell out to whomever will meet his needs at any particular moment. He is a capitalist pig foremost whose “making better deals” talking point response to every political dilemma (ha) is the biggest insult to anyone who pays attention. Hi ahead, however, and continue to rely on slogans. Good luck to you ?

  • Thomas

    Apparently you don’t. Can you say – integrity?

  • Red47

    Are you twelve?

  • That’s not much of a sales pitch, you know: attempting to persuade me by pointing to the opinions of people you call ‘nuts’. Dale Carnegie you ain’t. Anyway, the viewpoint of “scientists” (whom I encapsulate with quotes here, in honor of the nebulous vagueness of your chosen collective noun) hardly qualifies as any benchmark of validity, as a few decades ago “scientists” and “doctors” were extolling the health benefits of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

    Interestingly, as an aside, you know who notably thought using live virus vaccines was a horribly irresponsible idea? Jonas Salk. Funny, huh? Looks like maybe the ‘science’ isn’t settled after all.

  • idalily

    Wait. So It’s okay to be establishment when it’s Trump, and you think he is going to destroy the establishment by being part of the establishmentt? My God, Trump followers are the most idiotic, cultish group of voters ever. After Obama, I never thought I’d say that again, and yet, here we are.

  • Mel_Anosis

    I wasn’t trying to persuade you because I assumed it would be hopeless. My comments stand.

  • No higher than mine, sunbeam.

  • LibsAreWrong

    The Daily is removing comments.

  • BS61

    How about reporting that Boehner counting himself as 5 committee votes or that he purged 30 fiscally responsible Cong sent there in 2010 – the R;s lied to get elected which is why they had the nerve to whine daily to Politico

  • Thomas

    Why would you care so much about mine to modify your post to me with an ad hominem and call me out on ” talking points?” You’re the one who returned this morning to continue posting to me, no! You don’t process much do you ?

  • Red47

    Do you not read your own posts? Your comment is more reflective of you than of me. You have accused me of everything you have done. I mirrored you.Your control issues don’t help you here. If I am bored enough to come see how far you will go, then I will.

  • Red47

    Who said I am a Trump follower? What is a follower? Is he a Messiah? If he gets in the Establishment loses. I am a Losing Establishment follower. If it were not so, they would not be fighting him tooth and nail. They very clearly understand what is at stake.

  • Red47

    Finally. You are a Leftist and your comments made that clear. I just wondered how long it would take you to say it, I will repeat. If politicians were not for sale, the system would work as it should. As it stands, if s business does not contribute, that business is at risk when people like Obama start picking winners and losers. You really need to get up to speed on the extent of the graft. This problem isn’t a party thing.

  • Thomas

    You’ll return to argue your points as you have been. You do care enough to attempt to persuade me, ha! You’re not too bright to even process your own motivations but continue if you like. I’m moving on. Sayonara.

  • “The Stanford Daily has been a fixture on the Stanford campus since the University was founded in 1892. The paper began as a small publication known to locals as The Daily Palo Alto and has grown to its current status as one of the finest college newspapers in the country.” Wouldn’t know it by reading these comments. Sad.

  • idalily

    Fair enough. Once you’ve destroyed the “establishment”, who do you intend to replace them? Name names. Be specific.

  • mannix58

    It’s like Cheney…that dickwad should be hung.

  • Greg Hunter

    Actually the ten horns are the media companies that are controlled by the Beast

  • 2016=1984

    Biden is a buffoon

  • ShySue

    I want to know how to contact Boehner directly. I want to tell him that the “most miserable SOBs” in Congress are John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

  • CaptD

    Ephesians — All forms of bottled water (Spring, Distilled, etc.) transported CA must have Cl in it although it is not listed on the label, I’m not sure about other states.

  • CaptD

    Mel — I might suggest that just because one form of GMO is safe it does not mean that all forms of GMO are safe, especially for all people.

  • CaptD

    logic dog — WAS people

  • CaptD

    Noah — “Blame the liberal professors and teachers who have been indoctrinating our children for the past 40 years”.

    Are they anymore responsible than those Politicians that have promoted for our endless Wars, which have wasted so many lives, so many decades and so many Trillions of dollars that all could have used to enable mankind to inhabit Space and/or eliminate many of the woes of mankind if not much more?

  • Dwimby

    “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.” Mercy, mercy me. All pols are involved in divisive issues. Wake up brainiac. You’ll be graduating soon. That’s a real world out there waiting to eat you up.

  • Dwimby

    Good choice of words.

  • Dwimby


  • 2016=1984

    You’re 10,000% correct and that is why the Republican electorate was calling for Boehner’s resignation. McConnell seems to be tone deaf to the calls for his resignation

  • thedon77

    Of course they are, just like people were sure the earth was flat and at the center of the universe. Go forth flat earther, someday people will be looking back scratching their heads ad the idiocy that brought their hell about, meanwhile (currently) sound science continues to paint the road signs that no one wants to read.

  • jack burns

    Lofty middlebrow who doesn’t even suspect it. IOW typical liberal.

  • CaptD

    Warner — Providing the info/data is what is important, not how readers interpret it.

    These days as both print and MSM tend to be focused on political T&A so any insight that actually attempts to explain current events is refreshing to say the least.

    RE: Comments, I’m sure that you are aware that huge sums are bring spent to flood social media with “TROLL” comments by some candidates and their Parties, so one must filter out those when looking for new insights.

  • I will not vote for any Republican who supports abortion or same-sex marriage. Abortion kills babies. In fact, it kills off hispanic and black babies at a higher rate than white babies, and this ia a reflection of its inherently racist nature. Same-sex marriage and homosexuality destroy the Male/Female bonds that truly make society work. The Family is the basic structure of society. Radical leftists hate the Family because they hate God and His followers. They are destroying the moral, political and economic fabric of America that made it the most powerful, and best, country in the world. If you aren’t a social and religious conservative, you aren’t a conservative.

  • ET

    CORRUPT RINO PIECE OF CRAP John Boehner (by his own admission):
    •Jackass at birth
    •Jackass when elected to Congress
    •Jackass when appointed Speaker
    •Jackass today
    This alcoholic Piece of Crap is way past his Expiration Date. I hope he follows in the footsteps of Dennis Hastert.

  • Mel_Anosis

    Yes, if you modify to make broccoli secrete arsenic I agree with you. That is not being done

  • Les Legato

    ““The Republican Party has to move away from divisive social issues and start supporting baby killing, sodomite marriage and letting men in dresses share the ladies room with little girls”.


  • Martha Bartha

    Hes gonna have a long fuckin wait.

  • Martha Bartha

    I know! The voters said No!

  • Martha Bartha

    Don’t votes count?

  • Bronwyn

    I respect your right to your views on the stated subjects in your reply. Bravo free speech, freedom of thought. But if you start deciding how others feel and think (e.g. “Radical leftists hate the Family because they hate God and His followers.”) you simply show your lack of understanding of those who disagree with you. People who have much to gain (money, power, position, fame, etc) by lying to you inside your Right Wing really have you dancing to their nonsense. Lots of Lefties, Radical included, love Family and God, some can love Family w/o believing in YOUR God, some don’t believe in God (which has no way of hurting a great and powerful God, by the way) but they don’t hate God or Family or your practicing any religion. They got you drinking that Hate Kool-Aid. Consider keeping your beliefs but building them on fact, not hate fiction.

  • Bronwyn

    This is Right Wing fantasy conspiracy theory! Hey! Have some more Kool-Aid, it’s laced with I.Q. reducing magic (obviously) Enjoy your time in Stupid Town.

  • Bronwyn

    Majority of Californians support equal marriage for all. The top courts in this country overturned this not “a judge” and it got passed originally by a flood of OUT OF STATE money from RELIGIOUS groups (some considered “cult” (e.g. Mormons)) That is the cult that tried to get its way by “hook or by crook(ed)” Not the voice of the people of this fine and diverse state. Check actual facts rather than just listening to others in your bubble. (by the way, overturned as unconstitutional – which bigotry is…! When bigots get to rule, we have stuff like, oh, I don’t know, decades of SLAVERY!

  • Bronwyn

    Very mature and intelligent to turn discussion into making fun of someone’s looks. Really added a lot to the discussion. You must have a high I.Q. Probably waaaaay above 50.

  • Bronwyn

    Both illegal and stupid. Good luck with that.

  • also

    Cholo, I worry about Trump’s principles, too. Deeply. But I think at this point the bar has been set so low by the legacy of Obama and Congress, most people are willing to settle simply for a Patriot. For me, I look out there and see the consequences of having someone run the country based solely on affirmative action and disregard for the rule of law, and I think even Trump (and almost anyone else in the phonebook) is a huge step up.
    But in truth, my preferences have gone from Scott Walker to Ted Cruz, and now it appears we will all have to find a way to stomach Trump or we risk the corruption, elitism, and thuggery of 8 years with the Clinton mafia.
    Ugly, eh? I wish Cruz was a better candidate, because I loved his approach as TX attorney general and Senator, but it doesn’t seem to be happening for him in this primary election.

  • thedon77

    4.0 university graduate, finance and marketing, but hey keep thinking that, lol.