WASHINGTON — John Boehner is resigning. And religious conservative voters are thrilled.
When Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to the Values Voters Summit gathering of Christian conservatives in Washington D.C. Friday morning, told the crowd that Boehner had just announced his retirement, they went wild with applause.
“The time has come to turn the page,” Rubio told the crowd, “and that extends to the White House and the presidency.”
Conservatives have long clashed with Boehner over tactics. Most recently, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others have been criticizing Boehner and the Republican leadership for not supporting the plan favored by conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood.
Cruz mentioned Boehner’s resignation during his speech to the summit.
“Want to know how much each of you terrify Washington?” Cruz asked the crowd. “Yesterday, John Boehner was speaker of the House. Y’all come to town and somehow that changes. My only request is can you come more often?”
Asked by The Daily Caller after his speech who he would like to see replace Boehner, Cruz wouldn’t name names: “That’s a decision for the House conference to make.”
As reporters crowded around him, Cruz acknowledged “it seems to me, the country will be better served with a strong conservative speaker.”
“I will say the early reports are discouraging,” Cruz said. “If it is correct that the speaker, before he resigns, has cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to fund the Obama administration for the rest of its tenure, to fund Obamacare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, to fund implementation of this Iran deal, and then presumably to land in a cushy K Street job, after joining with the Democrats to implement all of President Obama’s priorities — that is not the behavior one would expect of a Republican speaker of the House.”
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, reacted to Boehner’s resignation when he arrived at the Omni-Shoreham hotel for the event.
“I think it’s time,” he said of Boehner’s departure. “It’s time. It was really something I think he’s wanted to do for a while. But it’s a good thing.”
Asked who he likes, Trump said: “I think they have probably four or five good choices. We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a fight.”
Boehner announced his plan to step down from his leadership post and leave Congress in October.
There has been renewed talk of an effort by conservatives to oust the speaker. A Boehner aide said Friday that Boehner wanted to avoid such a fight, believing “putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.”
The aide also said Boehner’s original plan was to serve only through the end of last year. But then Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in his Republican primary “changed that calculation.”