Fri., January 24, 2014 10:15am (EST)

President Boehner? Not If That Rules Out Wine And Cigarettes
By Mark Memmott
Updated: 6 months ago

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during his appearance on Thursday's <em>The Tonight Show with Jay Leno</em>.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during his appearance on Thursday's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
House Speaker John Boehner used his first-ever appearance on NBC-TV's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to talk politics and, as President Obama and others have also done on late-night TV, have some fun at his own expense.

Asked Thursday if he has any presidential ambitions, the Ohio Republican joked that:

-- "Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I'm not giving that up to be president of the United States."

He also, writes the Los Angeles Times, "used his rare appearance on a comedy show to poke fun at rumors about his dark some might say verging on orange complexion. It's a mix of genes and a lot of time outdoors all natural, he said. 'There are no tanning beds,' he said. 'There's no spray thing. Never, not once.' "

As for one of the past year's bigger political stories, the partial shutdown of the federal government last fall, Boehner called it a "very predictable disaster."

The speaker said he went along with the demands of many fellow Republicans in the House who thought a shutdown might bring Obama to the negotiating table for talks about the president's health care law despite his (Boehner's) doubts about the wisdom of the strategy.

"When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. And you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk," Boehner said. "So I said, 'You want to fight this fight? I'll go fight the fight with you.' But it was a very predictable disaster. The sooner we got it over with, the better."

Boehner also predicted that this year's elections will be "about jobs and about the failures of Obamacare."

Looking ahead to 2016 and the presidential campaign, Boehner said, "I'm not endorsing anybody, but [former Florida Gov.] Jeb Bush is my friend and I frankly think he'd make a great president."

As for another Republican and potential presidential contender, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Boehner said the questions nagging the governor about his office's involvement in the so-called Bridgegate scandal are "not going to go away any time soon."


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