SAN ANTONIO (AP) – House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that he's "nudged" former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
With various potential GOP candidates jockeying two years out, the top Republican in Congress delivered the strongest hints about his preference for the White House while cautioning that the talk was a bit premature.
"Jeb Bush is my friend. I think he'd make a great president. I've nudged him for some time," Boehner told the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas have been mentioned as possible presidential candidates along with a number of GOP governors.
In this year's elections, Republicans are expected to keep control of the House and have a legitimate shot at seizing the majority in the Senate. Boehner said he expects to keep his leadership position in 2015 but stopped short of committing to serving out a full 13th term in Congress.
"I have a very good relationship with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle," Boehner said. "Even in my party, even with some people with whom we have disagreement almost every day, I have a good relationship with them as well.
But given a chance to end speculation that he may not complete another full two-year term, Boehner said he couldn't predict what might happen.
"I'm going to be 65 years old in November. I never thought I'd live to be 60. So I'm living on borrowed time," the Ohio Republican said.
Boehner has provoked discontent among some conservatives over his actions during last year's government shutdown, his backing for raising the nation's borrowing authority and his support for moving ahead on immigration overhaul. He drew a primary challenge in his Ohio district against two tea party candidates but easily beat both last week and now faces a token Democratic opponent in November.
Boehner also briefly discussed a new special select committee that will conduct the eighth investigation of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in the assault.
Republicans have accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people about the attacks.
Boehner named seven Republicans to the panel last week, but Democrats are divided about whether to participate in the probe they consider an election-year stunt. Democrats have five seats to fill.
Boehner said the investigation will move ahead with or without Democrats.
"I promised Ms. Pelosi that if she appoints members to this, they will be treated fairly," Boehner said. "We've been having a discussion over the last four or five days about how witnesses would be handled, how documents would be handled. We're trying to come to some understanding, up front, of what I mean by fairness."