The Ohio Republican's appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" laid bare the rifts within the Republican Party. Asked by Leno whether the Republican infighting was the worst he's ever seen, Boehner disagreed, then changed his mind.
"Oh, no. Well — maybe it is," Boehner acknowledged. "It's bad. ... It is all a fight over tactics, not over what our goals are."
The government shutdown last fall, Boehner said, was something he had repeatedly tried to move the conservative wing of his party away from.
"I told my colleagues in July, I didn't think shutting down the government over Obamacare would work because the president said, 'I'm not going to negotiate.' And so I told them in August, 'probably not a good idea.' Told them in early September. When you have my job, there's something you have to learn.
"You learn," the House's top Republican quipped, "that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk."
Boehner went on to emphasize how much he disagreed with the tactic of shutting down the government, distancing himself from those members who had insisted on it in an attempt to disrupt the implementation of the president's signature health care reforms.
"It was a very predictable disaster," he said. "We were fighting for the right things, I just thought tactically it was not the right way to do it."
Asked by Leno about the Tea Party, Boehner said he had no reason to dislike the movement, though he did express a distaste for Washington organizations that he said took advantage of the movement's successes.
"I don't have any problem with the Tea Party. Those people have brought great energy to the political process. ... When you agree with someone 90 percent of the time, they're not your enemy," he said. "My problem was with some Washington organizations who purport to represent the Tea Party ... there's nothing I could do that was ever conservative enough for them."