Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was having dinner at a Capitol Hill Italian restaurant when the returns from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary race came in showing the Virginia Republican had lost.
“No, you know the rules,” Boehner said when asked if he had any comment when leaving the Trattoria Alberto, which describes itself as “Fine Italian dining in a friendly, neighborhood setting.”
Boehner, in shirtsleeves and with his tie undone, was referring to his typical practice of not answering questions outside of a press conference. His demeanor was somewhat prickly, but not surprising given that he was being unexpectedly pursued after dinner by a few reporters after a stunning defeat for establishment Republicans.
Boehner was joined at dinner by a few other companions and longtime friends, including Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa.
His party dined on the upper floor of Trattoria Alberto's converted townhouse in a semi-private room that smelled of cigarette smoke, which, along with red wine, is one of Boehner’s guilty pleasures.
Aides, and possibly others, peeped from a window at the few journalists who were waiting, presumably to pick an opportune time for his departure.
Chambliss and Burr were the first to leave and joked with reporters about not answering questions. “Wait for ; we are on the wrong side of the Capitol,” Burr said.
The speaker later released a statement calling Cantor “a good friend and a great leader," and ended it with a melancholy, “My thoughts are with him and Diana and their kids tonight.”
Earlier in the evening at another Capitol Hill haunt, The Tune Inn, the reaction to the Cantor news was palpable.
Several patrons approached Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., who was having a drink and ordering dinner, to get his take.
Grijalva said he was surprised at the news and worried that the result would push Republicans further to the right on issues, particularly immigration.