Ally: Boehner wasn’t forced out

Ally: Boehner wasn’t forced out

A long-time ally of Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerSudan sanctions spur intense lobbying OPINION | GOP's 7-year ObamaCare blood oath ends in failure A simple fix to encourage bipartisanship in the House MORE (R-Ohio) is rejecting claims from other conservatives that his sudden departure was the result of a threatened coup.

“Don’t think for a minute that he was forced out,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told reporters Friday.

“Any kind of contest he’s ever been in, he’s won one-handedly, and I think that would have happened again if anybody had the nerve to challenge him, and frankly, no one has,” said Cole, who is a member of the House GOP leadership team.

Boehner’s position has been increasingly challenged on the right by a small but vocal core of conservatives. The threats to oust him have grown louder over the last two months, with one Republican lawmaker filing a rare “motion to vacate the chair” just before recess.

Cole criticized those members for unfairly blaming Boehner, who has had to play “both offense and defense, by himself” before the GOP took the Senate, he said. For four years, Cole said Boehner was "both the point of the spear and the goalie at the same time."

"It’s disappointing, some on our own team, haven’t thought about that and understood the difficulties he had and the support he deserved. He earned it.”

Members of that conservative coalition, including the Freedom Caucus, were quick to cheer the move, as were conservative leaders outside of Congress, like the Heritage Action.

Still, Cole denied that Boehner’s exit was anything but graceful.

"I would say this is a pretty graceful exit. Not a lot of people have the pope there the day before, and not a lot of people take everybody by surprise,” he said.

When asked if Boehner’s departure is a victory for the conservatives who have tried to oust him, Cole laughed.

“It’s probably a victory for him,” he said. “He’s going to a better place.”