John Boehner did not mince words when asked for his thoughts on Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in an interview at Stanford University on Wednesday, according to the school's newspaper.
The former Republican House speaker, who retired from Congress in the middle of last year after growing tired of repeated battles with hardliners in his own party, called Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh" when asked by Stanford professor David M. Kennedy for his thoughts on the Texas senator, making a grimace that drew chuckles from the audience.
"I have Democrat friends and Republican friends," Boehner added. "I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."
Kennedy told Boehner that the event was not being recorded and encouraged him to speak frankly on Wednesday, not noting, apparently, that reporters from the Stanford Daily were in the audience.
The now-retired speaker has a storied history with Cruz.
In the middle of a two-week government shutdown in 2013, Cruz was angry about an emerging deal to reopen the government. Finding little cooperation from his Senate colleagues to hold the line and push to end Obamacare before allowing the government to begin operating again, Cruz organized a meeting with some of Boehner's biggest enemies in the House Republican caucus at Tortilla Coast, a Tex-Mex joint just a few blocks from the Capitol that's typically filled to the brim with Hill interns and young staffers eager to down as many cheap margaritas as possible between clocking out and the end of Happy Hour.
To Boehner and his leadership allies, the meeting represented unusual meddling in House affairs by a senator. And although the group that met with Cruz wasn't large enough to prevent the speaker from ending the government shutdown (something he opposed from the beginning), Boehner was not happy.
It wasn't the last time Cruz would organize with the House's most conservative members, many of whom are now a part of the House Freedom Caucus, which is in part responsible for Boehner's ouster as speaker.
There's clearly little love lost between Boehner and the Texas senator. When asked about the other candidates for president, Boehner was largely positive. He said that he used to golf (a famous Boehner hobby) and text with frontrunner Donald Trump and called Ohio Governor John Kasich, whom he has endorsed, a friend.
But even Boehner, who also hails from Ohio, acknowledged that Kasich has a tough hill to climb in the 2016 race. The governor has only won a single primary so far, in his home state.
Kasich, Boehner said, "requires more effort on my behalf than all my other friends... but he's still my friend, and I love him."
Although Boehner previously said that he would support current Speaker Paul Ryan in the event of a contested convention, he said Wednesday that he could support Trump if he wins the nomination, which is looking increasingly likely after he won five Northeastern states on Tuesday.
But in a breach of typical political solidarity, the former speaker said that he would not support the Republican nominee in November if that man's name is Ted Cruz.
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