Former House Speaker John Boehner says he tried unsuccessfully to get Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to be Sen. Bob Dole's running mate 20 years ago.
"After four years of Bill and Hillary Clinton, I believed, the country was hungry for leadership grounded in principle," Boehner wrote in the Independent Journal Review.
"The center of Dole's appeal was the opportunity to return gravitas and adult leadership to the White House," Boehner added. "But to turn it into electoral success, nearly everyone agreed, Dole needed some rocket fuel."
That rocket fuel, Boehner reasoned, could be Scalia, who died Saturday and threw Washington into new battle over when his replacement should be nominated and confirmed. "I share the recollection of this ill-fated recruitment effort now because I believe it helps to shed light on the person Antonin Scalia really and truly was," Boehner wrote.
Boehner said he and a staffer had pizza for lunch with Scalia as they discussed his possible candidacy.
"Scalia's reaction was a mixture of amusement and humility, tempered by an underlying seriousness of purpose that reflected his love of country and sense of obligation to it," he wrote.
A few days later, Scalia dictated his response to Boehner: "The possibility is too remote to comment upon, given my position."
Those were the same words Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes used in response to similar questions decades ago.
Boehner shared the response with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Dole himself.
"Dole laughed," Boehner wrote. "'He didn't say no, so that means yes,' the former Senate majority leader observed.