RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
We are continuing to gather reaction this morning to the surprise announcement that House Speaker John Boehner will resign from Congress. The Republican speaker has battled with conservatives in his party for years. This morning, religious conservatives are holding a conference here in Washington, D.C. NPR's Don Gonyea joins us now from the Values Voter Summit. Hi, Don.
DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Hi there.
MONTAGNE: So let's begin by listening to what happened in the room there, where you are, when this news was announced of John Boehner's resignation. It was delivered on stage by Sen. Marco Rubio.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MARCO RUBIO: Just a few minutes ago, Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning.
MONTAGNE: Well, that's pretty strong stuff for members of - we must say - of his own party. What do you make of that reaction?
GONYEA: This was news they did not expect to hear today. So many of these people were watching coverage of the pope yesterday, and they saw Boehner enjoying that moment. But look, this is the Values Voter Summit. It's a little bit like that - that big CPAC conference - the Conservative Political Action Conference. But this is the subset of that group with a focus on Christian conservatives. And these people who are attending this summit feel very strongly that the big issues of the day are what they see as the attacks on Christianity in the U.S. and as part of that, the push to defund Planned Parenthood. Those are their two big missions. They saw Boehner as an obstacle, especially on that latter thing, and they were thrilled. Now, it's worth listening to what Rubio then went on to say as he finished that statement after the whooping and cheering died down.
MONTAGNE: And we - well, what end - I'm going to ask you, what was that? Because he is...
GONYEA: I'm sorry. I thought we had him there.
MONTAGNE: Yeah, yeah, I could tell that, but...
GONYEA: Well, here's what he said.
GONYEA: He said he respects John Boehner, but that it was time to turn the page. He didn't criticize him directly. Rick Santorum, also a candidate, came up to speak. There's a long list of Republican conservative presidential candidates speaking here today. And he announced rather obliquely we had someone step down today. It was time. It's time for a new chapter. Ted Cruz also spoke. And Cruz - Cruz was a little more blunt, a little more direct. He said if the rumors are true that John Boehner worked a back-room deal with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to keep funding Planned Parenthood and to keep the government open, then we - we do not expect that kind of leadership from a Republican.
MONTAGNE: Don, thanks very much.
GONYEA: It's my pleasure.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Don Gonyea at the Values Voter Summit here in Washington, D.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.