Former House speaker John Boehner declared Thursday that the Republican Party as he once knew it is gone, replaced by what he called the “Trump party.”
The former Republican congressional leader, who served as House speaker from 2011 to 2015, offered a grim assessment of the state of the GOP while speaking at a political event in Michigan.
"There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party,” Boehner offered up when asked about the current GOP. “The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”
Addressing a crowd at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the former House speaker acknowledged a difference in political styles between himself and the president, saying, “Donald Trump style is not quite my style.” But Boehner offered praise for some of Trump’s actions on foreign policy, deregulation and trade.
“If you can peel away the noise and the tweets and all that, which is virtually impossible to do, but if you peel all this away, from a Republican standpoint the things that he’s doing by and large are really good things,” he said.
The former Ohio lawmaker, who remarked that Trump was “clearly the most unusual person we’ve elected as president,” also expressed a degree of shock at Trump’s electoral victory in 2016. Boehner said he never saw Trump's successful presidential bid coming.
“Donald Trump, who I know well, was one of my supporters, when I was speaker [and] I was having a rough week, Trump would call me, pat me on the back, cheer me up, we played a lot of golf together,” Boehner recalled, “But president, really? Whoa, I never quite saw this. But the guy ran, the guy won.”
Boehner cracked that Trump and his 2016 general election foe, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, were likely “the two most surprised people in the entire world” when the president clinched his victory. And he speculated that the president's stunning defeat of Clinton likely did not sit well with first lady Melania Trump.
“I think Donald Trump promised Melania that he would not win, she didn’t have to worry about ever living in the White House," he said. "[That's] probably why she doesn’t look real happy every day. Well, maybe one reason.”
Boehner, a longtime friend and golf partner to Trump who voted for the president in 2016, drew attention last May when he commented that Trump was "still learning how to be president" and that some of his efforts in office had "been a complete disaster."
Boehner later backtracked on the remarks, saying what he was referring to "was the execution of the president’s agenda and the president’s policies," not the underlying agenda or policies.