November 1st, 2015
11:53 AM ET

Boehner on immigration reform during his time as Speaker: "the President just kept poisoning the well."

SOTU

 

 

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), joined chief political correspondent Dana Bash

 

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Boehner’s advice to Paul Ryan on taking over as Speaker of the House: “Be open, be transparent, and be decisive, that they have got - people have no place else to go, and that when you are the speaker and you're the leader, you have got to make decisions.  And then you have to live with the consequences, tough part of the job.”

Boehner responds to Sen. Ted Cruz’s comments regarding the budget deal: “That's just total nonsense.  This is - we have got real entitlement reform in this agreement.  We have got a big group of members who need more money for our national defense.  And all the increases in spending are offset with spending reductions elsewhere in the government.”

Boehner on immigration reform during his tenure: “Well, it is, because reforming our immigration system, securing our borders would be good for America.  But, unfortunately, the president just kept poisoning the well, poisoning the well, to the point where it was impossible to put it on the floor of the House.”

Boehner’s experience doing yoga: [BOEHNER]: " Yes.  I started back...[BASH]:  I have known you for a long time.  I am having trouble with this image.  [BOEHNER]:  I started July of - of last year.  I was in a yoga class with Paul Ryan and Kristi Noem and some others for a little...  [BASH]:  Does it center you also, or is it more about stretching?  [BOEHNER]:  It's more about stretching…I’m not a - I’m not trying to be a yogi here.  I just do some yoga."

 

 

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

 

DANA BASH CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.  I'm Dana Bash.

There were, as you might expect, tears, as John Boehner said goodbye to Congress after 25 years.

I sat down for an exclusive interview with the now former speaker of the House on his very last day in office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

BASH:  Let's talk about Paul Ryan.  To say he was reluctant is an understatement.  He flat-out said he did not want this job over and over again.

 

JOHN BOEHNER:  And he told me the same thing.

 

BASH:  Yes.  And you called him.  You tried to - you successfully tried to convince him to run.

 

How did you do it?  What did you say to him?

 

BOEHNER:  Well, first, I laid every ounce of Catholic guilt I could on him.  And...

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

BASH:  How does that go?  Lay some Catholic guilt on me.  I want to know what that feels like.

 

BOEHNER: "You have no choice.  This isn't about what you want to do.  It's about God wants you to do."

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

BOEHNER: "And God has told me, he wants you to do this."

 

BASH:  You pulled the God part, huh?

 

BOEHNER:  Oh, I pulled it all out.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

BOEHNER:  Listen, Paul was the right guy at the right time.  I know he - knew he didn't want to do it.  He kept telling me he didn't want to do it.

 

But it was obvious to me that he was the right person for the job, and I had to do everything I could to convince him.

 

BASH:  Now, you know full well that doing this job might make it hard to go on to other office, namely, the White House, because you get pretty messy.  And...

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

BOEHNER:  I think he got over that.

 

BASH:  So, do you think it's possible for him to be president?

 

BOEHNER:  Well, I'm not sure that - I think he would have liked to have been president, but I think he has figured out that God has another plan in mind for him, and it's to be speaker of the House.

 

BASH:  What is the one thing, with all of your experience here, the good, the bad and the ugly, that you want him to keep in mind?

 

BOEHNER:  Be open, be transparent, and be decisive, that they have got - people have no place else to go, and that when you are the speaker and you're the leader, you have got to make decisions.  And then you have to live with the consequences, tough part of the job.

 

BASH:  The budget deal that you struck just this week calls for an increase of $80 billion in federal spending over two years, in exchange for a variety for cuts.

 

Ted Cruz said: "It's a complete and utter surrender.  John Boehner's golden parachute will certainly cement his legacy, but it is a slap in the face to conservatives."

 

BOEHNER:  That's just total nonsense.

 

This is - we have got real entitlement reform in this agreement.  We have got a big group of members who need more money for our national defense.  And all the increases in spending are offset with spending reductions elsewhere in the government.

 

BASH:  To get this agreement done, you had secret talks with the president.

 

That must not have been easy to do with the president of the United States, because you have had some troubled negotiations in the past.

 

BOEHNER:  We have.  But - but we have a good relationship.

 

At the end of the day, it's about doing the best we can, considering those things, on behalf of the American people.  So, we had a lot of conversations.  Some were better than others.  The one yesterday was a lot better than the one last week.

 

BASH:  What was the one last week?

 

BOEHNER:  Oh, it was just one of those conversations that just had to happen.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

BASH:  You made pretty clear that, in your heart of hearts, you wanted to get immigration reform done.  That has to be a regret, that that didn't happen.

 

BOEHNER:  Well, it is, because reforming our immigration system, securing our borders would be good for America.

 

But, unfortunately, the president just kept poisoning the well, poisoning the well, to the point where it was impossible to put it on the floor of the House.

 

BASH:  But why was it the president, and not the right flank of your own caucus?

 

BOEHNER:  Well, probably some blame there as well, but we could have dealt with that.

 

BASH:  What's going to be the best thing about being a civilian?

 

BOEHNER:  I get to walk up to Starbucks and back by myself.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

BOEHNER:  I get to walk to Pete's Diner and back by myself.

 

BASH:  By yourself, meaning without your security?

 

BOEHNER:  Exactly.  Oh, I can't wait.  I can't wait.

 

BASH:  The other thing I wanted to ask you about was something that I was sort of shocked about, is that you do yoga?

 

BOEHNER:  Yes.  I started back...

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

BASH:  I have known you for a long time.  I am having trouble with this image.

 

BOEHNER:  I started July of - of last year.  I was in a yoga class with Paul Ryan and Kristi Noem and some others for a little...

 

BASH:  Really?

 

BOEHNER:  Yes, for a little while.

 

BASH:  Does it center you also, or is it more about stretching?

 

BOEHNER:  It's more about stretching.

 

BASH:  I get that.

 

BOEHNER:  I’m not a - I’m not trying to be a yogi here.  I just do some yoga.

 

BASH:  Your office released a series of photos.  I'm not sure if you saw them, from your time as speaker.  And there's one that really, to me, looked like the quintessential Boehner scene.  It's this.

 

BOEHNER:  Yes.  That looks like me.

 

BASH:  Looking at the view?

 

BOEHNER:  Looking at the view and pondering a little bit.  (INAUDIBLE) - listen, (INAUDIBLE) -

 

BASH:  Do you miss that most, do you think?

 

BOEHNER:  I'll miss the people around here most.  We get to do important things. We get to put our fingerprints on the direction of the country, fingerprints on history.  But at the end of the day it's the people you meet that make this job so rewarding.

 

BASH:  Mr. Speaker, thank you so much.

 

BOEHNER:  Oh, thank you.

 

BASH:  Good luck with everything.

 

BOEHNER:  Thank you.

 

###END INTERVIEW###

 

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