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Originally published Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 11:05 PM

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John Boehner tells Jay Leno: No thanks to presidential run

The House speaker also called Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “a thug” and NSA leaker Edward Snowden “a traitor” in his first “Tonight Show” appearance.

By The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

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BURBANK, Calif. — House Speaker John Boehner says he likes his life too much to run for president.

Making his first appearance Thursday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Boehner was asked by the host whether he’d consider seeking the nation’s highest office.

“No,” Boehner said. “No?” Leno said. “No,” Boehner repeated.

“Listen, I like to play golf,” Boehner said by way of explanation. “I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I’m not giving that up to be the president of the United States.”

The line got a round of applause from the studio audience.

The Ohio Republican also got a laugh when he was asked if GOP infighting in Washington is the worst that he’s seen.

“Oh, no, it’s, well, maybe it is,” Boehner said. “Probably. Yeah, probably.”

He called Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “a thug,” accusing him of treating Russia’s neighbors in a “disrespectful way,” and said President Obama “ought to stand up to him and better protect America’s interests and our allies, especially in Eastern Europe.”

Asked if he agreed with recent assertions by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., that former government contractor Edward Snowden may have worked with Russia in exposing classified U.S. spying programs, Boehner said that “may or may not be true.”

“All I can say is that I think Snowden is traitor to the country,” he added.

Snowden, who faces theft and espionage charges for leaking classified documents to the press last year, is residing in Russia under temporary asylum.

Boehner said that while the National Security Agency “may have made mistakes” in carrying out surveillance activities, it exists to keep Americans safe. “We’re going to take a look at what needs to be tweaked.”

Boehner also said he and Obama have “a very good working relationship,” days before the president is to deliver on Jan. 28 his annual State of the Union address from the House chamber.

“We get along fine, but, you know, we come at this at our jobs from a very different perspective,” Boehner said. “I’m right of center, I think he’s way left of center.”

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