Deirdre Shesgreen reports:
In a Thursday night appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, House Speaker John Boehner conceded the government shutdown was a disaster for Republicans, hinted at his 2016 presidential preference, and swore he doesn’t visit tanning beds.
The West Chester Republican gave perhaps his most candid remarks yet on the government shutdown, saying he had tried repeatedly to talk his GOP troops out of waging that high-stakes fight over funding for the president’s health care law and acknowledging that he failed to persuade them otherwise.
“A leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk,” Boehner said of his decision to go along with the plan hatched by arch-conservatives in his conference. Boehner said he decided that “the sooner we got it over with, the better.”
Boehner insisted that his relationship with President Barack Obama is just peachy. “The president and I have a very good relationship,” he said. But he noted there is little room to compromise in the current political climate.
“There’s not as much common ground as their used to be,” he lamented. “The country’s gotten more partisan. The country’s gotten more divided.”
Leno asked Boehner if the GOP infighting was the worst he’d ever seen. The Ohio Republican hedged at first, but then said, “Well, maybe it is. It’s bad.”
Boehner also joked that growing up in a family with 11 siblings and working in his father’s bar, he learned to deal with “every jackass who walks through the door,” a skill he said was vital to his current job as House speaker.
Has he ever considered running for the White House? “No,” Boehner said without hesitation. He said he likes to play golf, cut his own grass, and enjoy a drink and a smoke. “I’m not giving that up to be president,” he cracked.
Boehner declined to endorse a GOP contender for 2016, although he made an unprompted plug for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Boehner called Bush a good friend and said he’d make a good president.
He dodged a question from Leno about whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential prospects had been damaged by the bridge scandal. Boehner noted that Christie had apologized and fired those responsible, but he added: “This is not going to go away anytime soon.”