Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) got emotional as he relayed a message from his daughters to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at Pelosi’s portrait unveiling Wednesday.
In his remarks he lauded Pelosi for her two decades atop the Democratic caucus.
“You’ve been unfailingly gracious to me, to my family and, frankly, my team here in Washington. And Madam Speaker, I have to say, my girls told me, ‘tell the Speaker how much we admire her,’” Boehner said, choking up at the podium.
“If you couldn’t tell, my girls are Democrats,” he quipped after the crowd applauded.
Boehner, who led House Republicans between 2007 and 2015, served as minority leader during Pelosi’s first stint as Speaker from 2007 to 2011 — when she made history as the first woman in the position.
Boehner joined House lawmakers, senators and Pelosi’s family at the Capitol on Wednesday for the unveiling of her portrait, which will hang in the Speaker’s Lobby in the Capitol alongside paintings of former speakers — including Boehner.
The Ohio Republican handed Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel when she assumed the role in 2007. In 2011, she returned the gavel to Boehner after House Republicans took control of the chamber. Then in 2015, Pelosi gave the gavel back to Boehner.
Pelosi remarked on Boehner’s tribute, saying she “would have been a little disappointed if he did not get emotional.” The former speaker is known for getting emotional and at times crying during noteworthy moments.
Boehner on Wednesday said “you and I have disagreed politically on many things over the years, but we were never disagreeable to each other.”
“As you might have heard me say before, you can disagree without being disagreeable,” he added.
He also told the story of when Pelosi handed him the gavel in 2011, and he kissed Pelosi in the chamber.
“In 2011 when I became Speaker, you handed me the gavel in the House chamber. I decided, why not, I’m gonna give you a big kiss,” Boehner said.
“Well, two things happened. First, the Speaker like backed away and I thought to myself, as if there was nobody watching, I can’t let her rebuff me, so I kinda moved in and made sure I planted that kiss on her,” he added.
After his remarks, he kissed Pelosi on both cheeks.
“The younger generation today has a saying, game recognizes game,” Boehner said. “And the fact of the matter is, no other Speaker of the House in the modern era, Republican or Democrat, has wielded the gavel with such authority or with such consistent results.”
“Let me just say, you’re one tough cookie,” he added.