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Boehner Says He's Never 'Worked With A More Miserable Son Of A Bitch' Than Cruz

John Boehner busted out the tissues when he left the House, but he's cutting loose now that he's gone.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post/Getty Images
John Boehner busted out the tissues when he left the House, but he's cutting loose now that he's gone.

Former House Speaker John Boehner is a retired politician, so he seems to have retired from being politic. He went with radical honesty at a recent event at Stanford, according to the Stanford Daily, when he was asked about his opinion of Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"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."

Consider how strong those words are: John Boehner was in Congress for 24 years.

Boehner entered the House in 1991. Total up all the House members not re-elected in the elections since then, and it's nearly 800. On the Senate side, it's more than 100. And then add in the 535 members who are there right now who Boehner also worked with.

And they all had staffers. Plus there were some delegates. And then there were the years Boehner spent in the Ohio House. And true, some of those Congress members left and came back, but you get the idea: Boehner has worked with thousands of people on the Hill. Apparently, Ted Cruz is at the bottom of that list.

(The comment has also inspired a joke site already: now redirects to Cruz's new campaign site,, as NBC News producer Margaret Menefee tweeted on Thursday.)

It's making headlines, but Boehner's comment just puts an exclamation point on one of the existing storylines of the election: many of Cruz's colleagues don't like working with him. As NPR's Ailsa Chang reported this year, Cruz's role (with House Republicans) in a 2013 government shutdown, plus that time he called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar, helped him make a long list of enemies in the Senate. That has also helped limit his list of endorsements.

But then, Cruz has been running an anti-establishment campaign, lambasting "Washington insiders" throughout the primary fight. It would almost be off-brand for too many senators to love him, as Chang pointed out.

"I never worked with John Boehner. Truth is, I don't know him that well," Cruz responded on Thursday. He added that he reached out to Boehner during the government shutdown but that Boehner rejected the offer.

As for Boehner, he had kinder words for the other candidates: he said he plays golf with Donald Trump and is also "texting buddies" with him, though he had milder praise for Ohio Gov. John Kasich ("[Kasich] requires more effort on my behalf than all my other friends ... but he's still my friend, and I love him").

Boehner added that while he would vote for Trump in a general election, he would not vote for Cruz.

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Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.