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Reaction From Values Voter Summit Amid News Of Boehner's Resignation


We are continuing to gather reaction this morning to the surprise announcement that House Speaker John Boehner will resign from Congress. The Republican speaker has battled with conservatives in his party for years. This morning, religious conservatives are holding a conference here in Washington, D.C. NPR's Don Gonyea joins us now from the Values Voter Summit. Hi, Don.


MONTAGNE: So let's begin by listening to what happened in the room there, where you are, when this news was announced of John Boehner's resignation. It was delivered on stage by Sen. Marco Rubio.


MARCO RUBIO: Just a few minutes ago, Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning.


MONTAGNE: Well, that's pretty strong stuff for members of - we must say - of his own party. What do you make of that reaction?

GONYEA: This was news they did not expect to hear today. So many of these people were watching coverage of the pope yesterday, and they saw Boehner enjoying that moment. But look, this is the Values Voter Summit. It's a little bit like that - that big CPAC conference - the Conservative Political Action Conference. But this is the subset of that group with a focus on Christian conservatives. And these people who are attending this summit feel very strongly that the big issues of the day are what they see as the attacks on Christianity in the U.S. and as part of that, the push to defund Planned Parenthood. Those are their two big missions. They saw Boehner as an obstacle, especially on that latter thing, and they were thrilled. Now, it's worth listening to what Rubio then went on to say as he finished that statement after the whooping and cheering died down.

MONTAGNE: And we - well, what end - I'm going to ask you, what was that? Because he is...

GONYEA: I'm sorry. I thought we had him there.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, yeah, I could tell that, but...

GONYEA: Well, here's what he said.


GONYEA: He said he respects John Boehner, but that it was time to turn the page. He didn't criticize him directly. Rick Santorum, also a candidate, came up to speak. There's a long list of Republican conservative presidential candidates speaking here today. And he announced rather obliquely we had someone step down today. It was time. It's time for a new chapter. Ted Cruz also spoke. And Cruz - Cruz was a little more blunt, a little more direct. He said if the rumors are true that John Boehner worked a back-room deal with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to keep funding Planned Parenthood and to keep the government open, then we - we do not expect that kind of leadership from a Republican.

MONTAGNE: Don, thanks very much.

GONYEA: It's my pleasure.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Don Gonyea at the Values Voter Summit here in Washington, D.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
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