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Boehner Tears Up at Pelosi Portrait Unveiling: ‘One Tough Cookie’

Boehner Tears Up at Pelosi Portrait Unveiling: ‘One Tough Cookie’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi‘s official portrait was revealed at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, as Republicans and Democrats united to honor her career in which she shattered the glass ceiling.

In 2007, Pelosi became the first woman elected speaker of the House and has led her fellow Democrats for nearly 19 years, previously serving as House Democratic whip. In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, considered the birthplace of the movement for U.S. women’s rights. The 35-year California congresswoman announced last month that she would be stepping down after Republicans won the House majority in the midterm elections.

Among those in attendance Wednesday included former Ohio Representative John Boehner, a Republican who both preceded and succeeded Pelosi, serving as speaker from 2011 to 2019 until Democrats regained control of the chamber in the 2018 midterms.

Speaker Pelosi Attends Her Portrait Unveiling
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi on Wednesday applaud at her portrait unveiling ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Former House Speaker John Boehner paid tribute to his successor, and was praised for showing respect to his former political opponent.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Boehner delivered tearful remarks to the crowd about his onetime political opponent, and shared that Pelosi has served as a role model for his daughters.

“Madame Speaker, you and I have disagreed politically on many things over the years, but we were never disagreeable to each other,” Boehner said on stage. “As you might have heard me say before, you can disagree without being disagreeable.

“No other speaker of the House in the modern era, Republican or Democrat, has wielded the gavel with such authority or with such consistent results,” the former speaker continued. “Let me just say, you are one tough cookie.”

The heartfelt tribute was praised by Twitter users from both sides of the aisle Wednesday night, including by Healy Baumgardner, a political advisor who worked on former President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign.

“John Boehner @SpeakerBoehner is a CLASS ACT,” Baumgardner wrote.

Writer Josh Kruger tweeted that he had the “surreal” feeling of missing Boehner while watching the speech, adding that his teary tribute to Pelosi “seems so noble.”

“Boehner was never a lunatic, and his commitment to country has never been in dispute,” Kruger added. “In other words, the GOP doesn’t make them this way anymore.”

Other users agreed that Boehner’s words were an example of positive GOP leadership in contrast to current House Republican leaders. Susan Glasser, a journalist for The New Yorker, tweeted that it was “Amazing to watch John Boehner tear up at Nancy Pelosi’s portrait unveiling.”

“Powerful reminder of the present dysfunction with a House GOP controlled by its pro-coup caucus,” she added.

Other notable guests at Pelosi’s tribute included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who’s striving to succeed the speaker when the GOP takes the reins of the chamber next year. Former President Barack Obama also delivered a “virtual cameo” to honor his former colleague, according to a report from The New York Times.

Obama told the crowd via the recorded speech that even though Pelosi was going to be stepping down from House leadership, “I’ll still feel better knowing that your portrait will be looking down from these walls, reminding everyone who sees it to keep up the fight,” reported the Times.

Pelosi also extended her gratitude to her colleagues in attendance during her remarks, saying she could “never thank you enough.”

“I thank you for your support, but more importantly for your patriotism and what you are all doing, on both sides of the aisle, for our country,” the speaker said. “And I think that every one of you is a blessing to our country.”

Newsweek has reached out to Boehner for comment.

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