CQ Transcripts Wire
Tuesday, April 4, 2006 11:58 AM
SPEAKERS: U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TOM DELAY (R-TX)
JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR
SCOTT: Powerful Texas Congressman Tom DeLay says he will not seek re-election. The former House majority leader expected to leave his seat by mid-June.
Now in his first televised interview since the announcement, Texas Congressman Tom DeLay joins us live in a Fox News exclusive.
Congressman, good morning.
DELAY: Good morning, Jon.
SCOTT: All of Washington is wondering, why?
DELAY: Why? Well, this campaign actually started over a year ago. It's very nasty. Every leftist organization in America is down here in Houston. I just realized that my constituents don't deserve this. They deserve a Republican.
And I think I could have won the seat, but it would have been nasty. It would have cost a fortune to do it. And I...
SCOTT: But you've never backed away from a challenge before. That's how you got your nickname, "The Hammer." Why not face up to this one?
DELAY: The challenge has always been in the interest of the conservative cause and the Republican majority. And I'm more interested in growing the Republican majority than my own future.
I can still be out there working for the Republican majority and the conservative movement and not jeopardize this seat.
SCOTT: Then, why put your district through the primary, which was somewhat bruising? You won it pretty easily, but there were some battles fought there. Why do all of that if you knew you weren't going to ultimately hold on to your seat?
DELAY: I didn't know that at the time. Remember, I don't set the deadlines for filing or the deadlines for the primary.
We though that, in December, when we had to file for office, that we would be in trial in Austin and be out of trial -- because it would only take about three days to beat Ronnie Earle's frivolous charges -- and we could go on.
When I stepped aside as majority leader, we were in the middle of a primary. After the primary, we evaluated it and made the decision, and I think it's a right decision.
SCOTT: Some are saying that The Hammer has gone soft with this pullout. Your response?
DELAY: First of all, I don't see myself as The Hammer. That's a nickname given to me by The Washington Post.
People that know me know that I'm passionate about what I believe in. I'm passionate about the conservative movement in this country. And I'm passionate about the Republican Party. And I'm very passionate about my constituents.
And I work hard. And I think I've been effective at what I've done for the last 21 years. And it's time for me to go do something else.
SCOTT: You know -- you've seen these charges in the paper -- a couple of your close associates, your former staffers, your former deputy chief of staff and your former P.R. man have pleaded guilty. They're apparently cooperating with federal investigators.
Is that part of your reason for resigning?
DELAY: No. The Abramoff affair has nothing to do with me. The Justice Department has told my lawyers I'm not a target of this investigation.
What those men did have greatly disappointed me, but it has nothing to do with me.
SCOTT: And you're not afraid that somehow them cooperating with federal investigators is going to lead to somehow to you?
DELAY: I know that the left has used it to try to brand me with guilty by association, but I have always served, I think, honorably and ethically. I've never broken a law nor the spirit of the law nor a House rule. In fact, I'm the most investigated man in Washington and they still have not been able to charge me with anything because there is nothing there.
SCOTT: You've said you didn't want the Democrats to have the advantage and perhaps take your seat away by going through the campaign that culminates in the election this November. But with you pulling out, doesn't that automatically give them a leg up?
DELAY: Not at all. In fact, it will no longer be a national race like it was.
My liberal Democrat opponent has been raising money all over the nation. He's got Barbra Streisand's support, George Soros' support, Nancy Pelosi's support. He's gotten money from Boston, Chicago, Hollywood -- very little money from Houston, Texas.
His money will dry up. This is probably the worst day of his campaign, because he knows that any Republican that replaces me on the ballot will win this seat.
SCOTT: Here's a quote from the Democratic National Committee regarding your decision. They say, "The Republican Party is in disarray, a party out of ideas and out of energy."
DELAY: Oh, boy, I tell you, this is a Democrat Party that has no agenda, can't come up with an agenda, has no solution. All they've got is the strategy of personal destruction and character assassination. And it hasn't worked in the past, it's not going to work in the future. They are a permanent minority party.
SCOTT: Does Ronnie Earle win by you resigning?
DELAY: He may win this battle, but in the end, we're going to give him a pretty good Texas whooping. Because the charges against me are frivolous. I've been indicted on laws that didn't exist at the time. He knows that.
This is a totally political operation, using our criminal justice system for political purposes and political gain. It's absolutely outrageous that Ronnie Earle has abused the Texas judicial system.
But in the end, we will beat him. He will once again, as he has many times, be embarrassed. And he will embarrass Travis County, and he will embarrass the Democrat Party of Texas.
SCOTT: When you stepped down as majority leader, you promised to come back. That didn't happen. Now you're resigning your seat in Congress.
Is this in any way a defeat? Do you feel defeated?
DELAY: Not at all. I feel kind of excited, frankly. I'm looking forward to being liberated outside the House, doing whatever I can to unify the conservative cause.
SCOTT: Any future political office?
DELAY: I don't know that. I don't know what the future holds at all. I just know that I'm going to continue to work hard for the conservative movement, and I'm going to continue to work hard to elect Republicans.
SCOTT: Congressman and former majority leader Tom DeLay. Thank you.
DELAY: Thank you, Jon.
Apr 04, 2006 9:55 ET .EOF
Source: CQ Transcriptions © 2006, Congressional Quarterly Inc., All Rights Reserved