Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh," the former top Republican lawmaker in Congress said in an unusually blunt assessment of the Texas senator who hopes to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the Republican Party's presidential nominee.
The harsh words from former speaker of the House John Boehner at a forum at Stanford University in California demonstrate the animosity felt toward Cruz by many within the Republican establishment. Cruz has made a name for himself in Congress for his unwillingness to compromise and confrontational attitude toward party leaders.
"Lucifer in the flesh," Boehner said when asked his opinion of Cruz. "I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."
Cruz dismissed the criticism on Thursday, saying he had never worked closely with Boehner who served in the lower House of Representatives while Cruz is a member of the upper Senate.
"What made John Boehner mad is that I led a movement by the people to hold Washington accountable," Cruz said, calling the former lawmaker who resigned last year a member of the Washington establishment that is part of the problem.
Cruz has emerged as Trump's nearest challenger in the Republican nomination fight, drawing reluctant support from many members of the establishment who see him as the lesser of two evils after outsider Trump unexpectedly rose to lead the race.
Cruz and fellow candidate John Kasich are seeking to keep Trump short of the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination outright at the party convention, forcing the delegates to weigh alternative candidates.