By Maya Rhodan
September 25, 2015

President Obama said Speaker of the House John Boehner a “patriot,” and that the announcement that Boehner would resign at the end of October caught him off guard.

“It took me by surprise,” Obama said from the Rose Garden on Friday. “John Boeher is a good man. He is a patriot. He cares deeply about the House. He cares about his constituents and he cares about America.”

Obama said despite their differences and challenges, which include the White House’s belief that the Ohio Republican was largely to blame for the 2013 government shutdown, Boehner has “always conducted his self with courtesy and civility with me.”

Obama said that he would not “prejudge” who the next Speaker of the House will be, but expressed hope that the next speaker will do his or her best to recognize the importance of compromise. Obama said Friday sometimes Speaker Boehner had a “tough time” with Republicans who saw compromise as “weakness or betrayal.”

“My hope is there’s a recognition on the part of the next speaker… that we can have significant differences on issues, but that doesn’t mean we shut down the government. That doesnt mean we risk the full faith and credit of the United States,” he said.

Obama spoke about Boehner for a little over a minute during a joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping shortly after the two leaders announced they’d reached an agreement to refrain from cybertheft activities between their countries. Obama said the two countries had found a “common way forward” on the issue of cybersecurity.

“This is progress,” Obama said, though he noted, “our work is not yet done.”

On Boehner, Obama said “He’s a good man. He’s a reasonable man.” The President added that he hopes “we can get some things done before he steps down.”

 

Write to Maya Rhodan at maya.rhodan@time.com.

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