ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
As House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio wrapped up his conference call with rank-and-file Republicans Sunday night, the Capitol Hill press corps was eager to catch a glimpse of the man at the center of the negotiations before he left the Capitol.
With television crews, photojournalists and reporters staking the speaker out at nearly every exit of his sprawling office suite, the Fourth Estate was eager to capture his reaction to the deal.
Two ABC two-man crews covered two exits from the speaker’s office suite. Having been disappointed multiple times in the past week that Boehner was able to leave at the end of the day undetected, I decided to camp out in a remote corner of the Capitol basement, guessing he would try to sneak out again.
After about an hour of waiting around, NBC’s Frank Thorpe joined me there, when the speaker suddenly emerged.
Boehner said, “Hi boys,” as he walked up and I asked whether he was satisfied with the deal he had cut with the president and Senate leadership. Boehner began to laugh when his phone started to quack.
Frank and I stopped recording while Boehner took the congratulatory phone call, and when he hung up, we quickly resumed our work.
Boehner told us, “It’d be more fun if I told you who was on the phone, but I won’t.”
Frank replied, “Who was on the phone?” and I chimed in, “Was it President Bush?”
Boehner chucked but did not reveal who the congratulatory call came from.
Still, the speaker would not give us much of a reaction, ignoring questions about the deal and walking slowly through the basement of the Capitol.
“I never know which way I’m leaving,” Boehner said.
I pressed him for a reaction, considering the debate on the debt limit has sucked up the oxygen on Capitol Hill for the past six months.
“Oh, I love you guys,” Boehner laughed. “You know the rule is the rule is the rule. Everybody gets treated fairly. You’re going to hurt yourself now.”
I repeated my question, sensing our spontaneous interview was coming to an end.
“He never gives up,” Boehner said as he walked to the elevator.
Then Boehner boarded the elevator, turned and put his head back against the wall, closing his eyes before letting out a big sigh of relief.
The image was telling.
While he was likely pleased to get away from two pesky reporters, the speaker was surely relieved to have finally approached the end of negotiations on the debt-limit deal.
Now, it’s time for the speaker to find the votes.