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Exclusive: Gingrich says departing Boehner 'very tired,' 'fed up'

WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that Speaker John Boehner is stepping down because he is “very tired” and “fed up” and predicted his replacement will be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

In a surprise move, Boehner, R-Ohio, told his GOP House colleagues on Friday he will quit Congress at the end of October, opening up a potential fight to replace him. Boehner made his decision public the day after he hosted Pope Francis at the Capitol.

I asked Gingrich why Boehner wanted to quit.

“Boehner was very tired,” Gingrich told me. “Yesterday was a high point of his speakership. He always wanted a pope to come and address Congress.”

The papal visit to the Capitol and his historic address before a joint meeting of Congress was “profoundly emotional” for Boehner, Gingrich said.

There are other reasons. “They have a brand new grandchild,” said Gingrich, who represented Georgia when he was speaker.

The bottom line is, “I think he is just fed up. He had done all he could. He pushed the rock up the hill as well as he could and decided he was done.”

“I thing being with the pope yesterday was just sort of enough” with Boehner concluding, ” ‘OK, I’ve done my job. I want to go home.’ “

Asked who will replace Boehner, Gingrich said, “I think the next speaker will almost certainly be Kevin McCarthy,” the California Republican.

“It is very hard to imagine how he loses,” he said.

Hard-line conservatives who opposed his rule were a problem for Boehner. What would McCarthy do different from Boehner?

“I’m not sure yet,” Gingrich said. “But he will have new energy and new drive and new ideas.”

McCarthy also will have a different style.

Said Gingrich: “We’ll see how it evolves.”