John Boehner speaks on Capitol Hill in this September 2015 file photo. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)
President-elect Donald Trump has no ideology and no political allegiances that will bind him as he prepares to move into the White House, former House speaker John Boehner said in a speech Friday in Cleveland.
“Put your seat belt on — it’s going to be a wild ride,” the Ohio Republican told the crowd at the City Club.
“He’s kind of a Democrat. He’s kind of a Republican,” Boehner said of Trump. “All the rules that we’ve seen … they’re all gone.”
Boehner recalled talking with Trump in the spring, when they both seemed stunned by Trump’s political success.
“We are the midst of a political revolution,” Boehner said, linking Trump’s surprise victory to the Brexit vote in England.
Boehner predicted that Trump would be able to do “big things,” in part because he was not beholden to either party and had his own platform to communicate with supporters. He said tax reform and infrastructure investments were the most likely areas where Trump could forge a deal with Congress.
“Donald Trump sees himself as larger than life,” Boehner said, adding that Trump reminded him of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th American president. “I think there’s an opportunity in this new political order to do big things.”
Boehner said he and President Obama were boxed in by their party’s extreme wings and a 24/7 news cycle.
“If I walked in the White House, the right wing press would just go crazy,” he said, adding that he had to find a way to sneak in without being seen. “And the left wing press would go after Obama … All of a sudden you’ve got no room to maneuver.”
Boehner said Trump can abandon his campaign promises and contradict himself, seemingly without fear of fallout.
“His voters don’t really care, that’s the amazing part,” he said. But, he said, “he’s going to have to deliver.”
The former congressman predicted that Trump would be the “immigrant’s best friend” and would surprise just about everyone.
“Don’t listen to all the noise,” Boehner advised his audience. “Just watch what gets done.”
Boehner stepped down from the speakership and resigned his House seat last fall. He is now working at a prominent lobby firm.
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