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John Boehner to Jay Leno: I wouldn't trade cigarettes for presidency


House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he likes his life too much to run for president.

Making his first appearance Thursday night on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Boehner was asked by the host whether he'd ever consider seeking the nation's highest office.

"No," Boehner said immediately. "No?" Leno said. "No," Boehner repeated.

"Listen, I like to play golf," Boehner said by way of explanation. "I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I'm not giving that up to be the President of the United States."

The line got a round of applause from the audience.

Boehner (pronounced BAY-nir), quipped that running for office isn't easy with a name that's hard to pronounce.

"It's hard running for office when people can't say your name. You know, my name looks like Beener, Bonner, Boner. My first race for Congress, I was running against a guy named Pinis. But thank God my name wasn't Weiner."

Boehner also got a laugh when he was asked if GOP infighting in Washington is the worst that he's seen.

"Oh, no, it's, well, maybe it is," Boehner said. "Probably. Yeah, probably."

But he went on to downplay the conflict.

"The funny thing about the so called infighting is that we agree on all the goals," the speaker said. "We think Obamacare is bad for the country. We think we shouldn't spend more than what we bring in. We think the president is ignoring the law. It's all a fight over tactics. It's not over what our goals are."

In his role as the head of the House Republicans, he explained his job isn't just keeping the trains running on time in Congress.

“People think, all right, you’re the speaker, you’re the leader,” Boehner said. “They don’t realize I’ve got a lot of other roles that I play. You know, some members, I have to be the big brother figure. Some I have to be the  father figure. Others I have to be the dean of students or the principal. Some of them I have to be the Gestapo.”

He pointed out that growing up in a working-class family with 11 brothers and sisters taught him everything he needs to know about doing his job.

“I grew up in a big family. You have to learn to get along with each other … get things done as a a family,” Boehner added. “When you grow up at a bar - I mopped floors, did dishes, waited tables, tended bar. And you have to learn to deal with every jack**s that walks in the door. Trust me, I need all the skills I learned growing up to do my job.”