John Boehner, former U.S. House Speaker, speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, May 12, 2016.
Photo by Bloomberg — Getty Images
By Stephen Gandel
May 12, 2016

John Boehner clearly isn’t happy that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. But he still thinks the real estate mogul can win.

On Thursday, at the SALT conference in Las Vegas, John Boehner was asked about a number of policy statements that Trump has made over the past few months—including banning Muslim entry into the U.S., building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and raising tariffs—and whether he agreed with them. Boehner’s responses: “No. No. No. No. Might be a bit harsh. Not quite my style.”

Nevertheless, Boehner told the crowd at the hedge fund confab that he and other Republicans should support Trump for president.

“I was for some other people, but they didn’t win,” says Boehner. “We may not be unified around Donald Trump. We are unified around making sure a Republican wins the White House.”

 

One of the big questions surrounding the presidential race is whether mainstream Republicans who supported other candidates will now get behind Trump. That has been one of the central points of conversation at this year’s SALT conference, which is normally dominated by talk about the markets. Just days before the conference kicked off in Las Vegas, Anthony Scaramucci—who heads SkyBridge, which sponsors SALT—signed on as a Trump fundraiser. Scaramucci had been supporting Macro Rubio’s candidacy, and he suggested back in January that Trump would be bad for the market.

Scaramucci and Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s chief fundraiser, are reportedly hitting up attendees at the SALT conference for donations. Trump has bashed hedge fund managers in the past and called for them to pay higher taxes.

Boehner said he would describe Trump as pragmatic and “clearly not conservative.”

However, Boehner suggested that the majority of Republicans, as well as politicians like Paul Ryan, who Trump met with on Thursday, will fall in line behind Trump. He also predicted that Trump could very well be the next president. “Anyone who thinks Trump can’t win, just watch.”

On North Carolina House Bill No. 2: “I’ve been on the earth for 66 years and I have never had any problem figuring out what bathroom to use. It’s just not an issue that I think the federal government should be involved with.”

On calling Ted Cruz the Devil: “I got criticized by some satanic organization in Washington for giving Lucifer a bad name.”

On Bernie Sanders: “He’s an old curmudgeon. He’s the most liberal guy I have ever met in my life. But he may be the most honest guy running for president, because he actually believes all that stuff.”

On whether Paul Ryan should support Trump for President: “Well [large pause, laughter from the crowd], Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee. Whether people like it or not, he deserves it. He’s worked hard. He has said a number of things through this campaign that some would be critical of on the left and on the right. So, Paul [Ryan] is being cautious. I don’t have any doubt there will be a meeting of the minds and things will get smoothed over.”

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