Former House Speaker John Boehner seems fairly pleased Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t win the Republican presidential nomination.
Speaking at the SkyBridge Alternatives conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, the former speaker expressed relief that Cruz had bowed out of the race.
“Thank God the guy from Texas didn’t win,” Boehner said of Cruz, according to Business Insider senior editor Josh Barro, who attended the conference.
During his tenure as speaker, Boehner and Cruz clashed repeatedly over tactics and legislation.
Their most prominent battle came amid the 2013 government shutdown that Cruz orchestrated with the help of conservative members of Congress that would later go on to form the House Freedom Caucus. The group fought Boehner on everything from spending bills to trade.
Though he’s largely vanished from the national spotlight since stepping down last year, Boehner hasn’t stopped criticising Cruz. At Stanford University last month, the speaker labelled Cruz a “miserable son of a b—-” and said he was “Lucifer in the flesh.”
Speaking on Thursday, the former speaker described the 2013 shutdown as possibly the “dumbest thing he ever saw,” telling the audience that it was clear to the Republican leadership that the shutdown would not yield the goals sought by Cruz and his House allies.
“I don’t know what the knuckleheads want. To this day, I don’t know what they want. All I know is they didn’t want to do what I, the leader of the majority party, wanted to do,” Boehner said of the House Freedom Caucus.
Though Boehner may be happy Cruz didn’t win the nomination, it’s less clear whether he’s satisfied with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
During the event Thursday, moderator Steven Rattner asked Boehner whether he supported some of Trump’s more controversial suggestions — including his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US, his proposal to send back Syrian refugees, and his suggestion to again use waterboarding, the controversial interrogation technique outlawed by Congress in 2009.
The speaker suggested he did not support any of the proposals.
“This is an unusual dance, but every time you come out of a primary you have to do an unusual dance,” Boehner said.
“This one is a little more unusual than most.”
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