Political Friendly Fire

Some of the worst things politicians said about a candidate in their own party

The special election in former Speaker John Boehner's district was a good opportunity for a Club for Growth-backed candidate to pick up a seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The special election in former Speaker John Boehner's district was a good opportunity for a Club for Growth-backed candidate to pick up a seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 28, 2016 at 8:03pm

Former House Speaker John Boehner made headlines when he called Sen. Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the Flesh” and said that he had “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”  

Boehner also said he would not vote for Cruz if he were the GOP presidential nominee. Republican problems with Cruz is nothing new. And it’s not the first time there has been intra-party shade throwing.  

Here are some the best:

Hamilton body slams Adams


In-the-family political feuds are as old as the Republic itself as evidenced by Alexander Hamilton’s attempts to undercut Federalist Party colleague John Adams in two presidential elections.  

This March 29, 2009 photo illustration shows Alexander Hamilton on the front of the USD 10 note in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Alexander Hamilton is on the money here. But in 1796 he picked the wrong man for president. He stepped up his animosity for fellow party member John Adams four years later, and Adams lost to Thomas Jefferson. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1796, Hamilton waged a quiet, but unsuccessful campaign to thwart Adams, favoring Charles Pinckney, a diplomat who served under George Washington. Four years later, Hamilton again favored Pinckney and his opposition to Adams, who was running for re-election, was visceral. He published a letter criticizing the president’s character and labeling him unfit for office. Hamilton accused Adams of having “a vanity without bounds, and a jealousy capable of discoloring every object.” Adams lost.  

Truman disses JFK When John F. Kennedy ran for the Democratic nomination, former President Harry Truman had reservations about the the young senator from Massachusetts.  

Saying he had no personal issue with Kennedy, the former president  still asked him whether he was “certain that you are quite ready for the country, or that the country is ready for you in the role of president?”  

Truman, a Democrat like Kennedy, said given the tense world situation, “I hope that someone with the greatest possible maturity and experience would be available at this time.”  

WASHINGTON, : Harry Truman (1884-1972), the 33rd President of the USA, addresses media in 1945 in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Former President Harry Truman was not a big supporter of fellow Democrat John F. Kennedy before the 1960 nomination fight. But he came around for the general election and campaigned for JFK. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

He urged patience, but Kennedy said he did “not intend to step aside at anyone’s request.”  

Kennedy also said the convention would be open and that from his experience, “Mr. Truman regards an open convention as one which studies all the candidates, reviews their records and then takes his advice.”  

Truman resigned as a delegate to the 1960 convention. Kennedy won.  


Rocky goes after Goldwater At the 1964 Republican National Convention, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a moderate Republican who was a contender for the GOP nomination, gave a forceful critique of what he saw as the far-right forces that were sweeping Barry Goldwater.  

“These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror, [they have] no program for America and the Republican Party,” he said. “It is essential that this convention repudiate here and now any doctrinaire, militant minority whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers.”  

Goldwater was nominated but lost the general election in a landslide to  incumbent Lyndon Johnson.

Ike hangs Nixon out to dry

There is a long history in American politics of frosty or empty relationships between presidents and their vice presidents. But it’s common that when No. 1 is heading out the door, he’ll give a shout-out if his veep is looking to succeed him.  

CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: US Senator Richard Nixon (1913-1994) (2ndL), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) (2ndR) and their wives attend the Republican convention 12 July 1952 in Chicago. Eisenhower supreme commander for the Allied cross-channel invasion in 1944 became president in 1952 with Nixon as vice-president. Nixon was very much involved in the anti-Communist witchhunt campaign instigated by John Parnell Thomas and Senator Joseph McCarthy. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Richard Nixon (left) and Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1952 Republican convention that nominated Ike. Nixon was his vice president. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Nixon served as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president for eight years throughout the 1950s. So when Nixon went for the brass ring  against JFK, Ike was given an easy opportunity to credit his fellow Republican.  

Eisenhower was asked during a news conference what proposals of Nixon’s he had adopted. His response was astonishing.  

“If you give me a week, I might think of one,” Eisenhower said. “I don’t remember.”  

Nixon lost one of the closest elections in history.  

Contact Garcia at EricGarcia@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @EricMGarcia.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.