Ex-US House speaker John Boehner calls Ted Cruz 'Lucifer in the flesh', says he would rather vote for Trump

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz rebuts former Speaker John Boehner's comment that Cruz was a 'miserable son of a bitch' to work with.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was described as "Lucifer in the flesh" by former House Speaker John Boehner.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was described as "Lucifer in the flesh" by former House Speaker John Boehner. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) - Former House Speaker John Boehner said he would vote for Donald Trump in the general election if he were the Republican presidential nominee, but he would not vote for Senator Ted Cruz.

"Lucifer in the flesh," Mr Boehner called Sen Cruz on Wednesday (April 27) during a talk at Stanford University in California, the student newspaperreported. "I have never worked with a more miserable son of a b***h in my life."

Mr Boehner's scathing remarks are the latest sign of Sen Cruz's poor relationships on Capitol Hill, which the Texas senator has attempted to turn in his favour as he campaigns against what he calls the "Washington cartel".

Sen Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich are trying to deprive Mr Trump of a delegate majority in the waning weeks of the nomination race in order to force an open convention in July.

Mr Boehner, a Ohio Republican who left office in 2015, said at Stanford that he was "texting buddies" with the billionaire Mr Trump and had played golf with him.

Mr Boehner mocked Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, saying, "Oh I'm a woman, vote for me" to suggest she is campaigning on her gender.

But Mr Boehner also said Mrs Clinton was accomplished and smart.

This isn't the first time Mr Boehner has unleashed on Sen Cruz: He has previously called him a "jackass" and a "false prophet", and his loathing of Sen Cruz is legendary inside the Capitol.

The tension is a result largely of Sen Cruz's drive to defund Obamacare in 2013, leading to a government shutdown. In Mr Boehner's final years as speaker, Sen Cruz was his nemesis, often plotting with a breakaway group of conservatives - many of whom would later form the Freedom Caucus - in opposition to Mr Boehner's hopes for big-budget deals and an immigration overhaul that would ultimately allow most undocumented immigrants to stay in the US.

When Mr Boehner released his immigration principles in 2014, Sen Cruz quickly labeled it amnesty, and few Republicans outside of leadership were willing to publicly sign on.

In March, Mr Boehner said that if no candidate received a majority of delegates on first ballot at the convention, he would support his House speaker successor Paul Ryan.

A spokesman for Mr Boehner, Mr David Schnittger, later said Mr Boehner was speaking in hypotheticals and supported Mr Kasich for president. Mr Ryan has ruled out a bid for the nomination.

Mr Schnittger on Thursday said the Stanford newspaper's account was accurate.

The Cruz and Kasich campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.