RUSH LIMBAUGH INTERVIEWS TOM DELAY
Tom DeLay: I Think I'm Winning. I Feel Totally Liberated
April 5, 2006
RUSH: As always, we're thrilled to have Tom DeLay with us, who has shuffled the deck considerably with his resignation announcement this week. Congressman, thanks for being part of the program today. As always, it's great to have you with us.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, thank you, Rush. You know, you're partly responsible for any successes that I've had, so you have to take some of the heat, too.
RUSH: (Laughing.) Well, I'll join you in it. It's the way of the world. Look, the first thing I wanted to ask you about, we had some calls yesterday. I don't know if you heard about this. I know you've been busy, but there are some people, and I chastised them, but there are some people that called the program, and it's just anecdotal. I don't know how many this represents, but you may have heard this yourself that, well, you gave up, you quit. "It was a phony indictment and it's obviously political but you didn't hang in there and fight it. The Democrats always hang in there and fight it, and we just keep rolling up and giving it away to them," and I tried to explain to people that I had a different take on it, but why don't you address that first off the bat here.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, it may appear that way, Rush, but I think I'm winning. First of all, they had me tied down in a reelection campaign to where I had to focus completely on getting reelected. I think I could have won the seat, but it struck me that I can fight in another arena and still hold the seat for the Republicans. Now I feel totally liberated. I'm going to be out there talking about the conservative agenda. I'm going to be working very hard to get rid of the federal tax code and replace it with the FairTax. I want to continue my effort to hold the judiciary accountable. There's just a lot of great things I could be speaking out about, and I could not do that. I'm going to work very hard to elect Republicans to carry the conservative cause.
RUSH: Well, you could have done that had you won and been reelected.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: No, I couldn't. No. Even if I'd have been reelected, there was no assurance that I could go back into leadership and use my talents where they could be used more.
RUSH: Oh, okay.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: I wasn't going to step back into leadership. So now I can -- I'm free -- to go around the country and organize people and get them motivated and let's keep beating Democrats, and believe me, I'm going to be talking about the Democrats' strategy of criminalizing politics. I'm going to be talking about the fact that they have no agenda, all they have is using and abusing our judiciary for their political gain, and I could point to Ronnie Earle and the People's Republic of Travis County, Texas, and I could be an example, and I am an example of the way they play politics, which is dirty, in the gutter.
RUSH: Well, that's because they can't win in the arena of ideas. So they have to destroy their opponents or discredit them, because they can't beat them in the arena of ideas anymore, which I mean they won't even be honest about the things they believe. They have no agenda, to speak of. Well, they do but they won't be honest about it, but I want to go back to one thing about your resignation, because I mentioned this yesterday. A lot of people don't know it. You have spoken since your announcement that your objective is to maintain a Republican majority, and people have, you know, there's some people that believe that and some don't. I think people need to know in forming their opinion about this, that during the time of Texas redistricting, you carved up your own district and made it less secure for yourself, less Republican, in order for there to be more Republican seats electable in the state of Texas.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: That's correct.
RUSH: And that's why you're in this close race because your district isn't what it used to be.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Yeah, I went from about a 65% district to a 54% district, Republican district, thinking that I could carry and appeal to Democrats and independents like George W. Bush does in my district. He gets 65% of the vote, but obviously when you're being pummeled every day by the national media and your local paper and things develop like they developed for me, it takes a toll.
RUSH: Well, I think there was a movement in Hollywood to raise money for your Democratic opponent in this district and it would have cost you a lot of money, and I think you said that it would require a lot of resources be brought into your one district, and it would have harmed others.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: That's correct.
RUSH: So this is, as you say, this is really a move designed to take you off the front page, to take the bull's-eye off your back and give the Democrats nothing to shoot at where it comes to Tom DeLay.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: And put me in a different arena. Look, the Democrats went after me, and I'm not bragging, it's just true, because I was effective, and how was I effective? I was effective because we built the largest, strongest political coalition in my lifetime right here in Washington, DC, and around the country.
RUSH: Well, you know, can I interrupt you? You keep inspiring me to make comments here. The Democrats held the House for 40 years. We've held the House, you guys, from 1994, '95 when you were sworn in. It's basically been 11 or 12 years that the Republicans have held the majority, and everybody's dumping on you as The Hammer and your tactics and how did you do this, and nobody wants to go back and look at some of the tactics that the Democrats used to hold onto the House for 40 years, shutting you guys out of meetings and so forth. It's a clear one-way street.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, they hate our tactics because they're winning and they're effective. You know, they hate the fact that we had the K Street Strategy because we came into a town as a Republican majority with all the lobbyists in town Democrats, because they were hired, because their buddies were in charge before we came in, and we insisted that they start hiring Republicans. When we first came in, in 1995, most of the campaign contributions, 70% in this town were going to Democrats, 30% to Republicans. You know what it is today? Sixty percent Republican, 40% Democrat. Why? Because we built this huge political coalition, and now you've got all these leftist groups, Common Cause, Democracy 21, bemoaning the fact that we actually built a conservative coalition. They hate it! This place doesn't work because Tom DeLay goes out and introduces a bill and it becomes law. It takes a huge national effort to make these things happen, and it also takes money to make these things happen.
RUSH: Well, when you did this, you shook it up because they didn't think that something like what you did was possible.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: That's correct.
RUSH: They think power is an entitlement of their own. It's almost a birthright. You've come in, you and the whole class of 1994 that shook everything up.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: The Limbaugh class.
RUSH: They still haven't-- (laughing). They still haven't gotten over it, though.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Right.
RUSH: Their whole movement is fracturing toward the kook lunatic fringe and making them their base.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: You know, I had a question asked to me this morning. Why is there so much acrimony in Washington, why can't you just, the Rodney King, just get along? Well, we got along when the Republicans had a minority mind-set and were just happy to get a few crumbs off the Democrat majority's table, and everything was wonderful, and we all got along as long as the Democrats were in power and doing what they do best: raise taxes, bigger government, and all that. When we took over, the day that we took over, all of that stopped, because the Democrats had lost power, which is all that they live for. And they have fought us every step of the way on everything that we've done, and they've done it, as evidenced in my case, in the gutter type politics. They are still in denial. These Neanderthals actually gained the majority and are actually doing what they promised the American people they'd do.
RUSH: And the headline in the Washington Post, I think, there are many stories on you today in the newspapers, but the one here at the top of my stack, the Washington Post, "DeLay Departing on His Own Terms," and, congressman, I think that is the core of what infuriates them today. Yesterday they were feeling very powerful. The Democrats have gotten themselves in circumstances now where being emotionally satisfied substitutes for victory for them, and Paul Hackett loses by four points, and they throw parties, thinking they had a moral victory. They lost. Here you're going out on your own terms. They were hoping to have you around with a bull's-eye front and back on your shirt to kick you around and make you the face of this culture of corruption or whatever other sloganeering they wanted to use, you took it away from them, and it took them a day to realize, wait a minute, this is not good for us.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, I hope they think that, because it's not. I'm going to be out there doing what I do best, and that's the conservative cause and electing conservative Republicans.
RUSH: Well, hang on just a second. I gotta break. There's some other things about you in the news. Cynthia McKinney, and you've also been -- well, that's important, and you've been critical of the fact that there's no agenda on the House side and Republican side to the House. I want to talk to you about that right after this. Can you hang on for a break?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Sure I can.
RUSH: Right back after this, folks.
RUSH: We are back on the Rush Limbaugh Program, the EIB Network with Congressman Tom DeLay. All right, Washington Times story today. Headline says it all: "House GOP Lacks Agenda, DeLay Says." They quote you as saying we don't have an agreed agenda; breaking up our leadership has taken its toll. What's that portend?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, I think he misunderstood what I was saying. What I was saying was: the Democrats knew what they were doing. If you take the leader, the majority leader out, that so disrupts the leadership. It takes time, logistic time just to put it all back together. Remember we had --
RUSH: By the way, you have a great line in this story. "The only reason I was indicted was the stupid rule that allows the Democrats to pick the Republican leadership."
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Right.
RUSH: That is a great line, because the Republicans came up with this rule, trying to please everybody. "If any of our leaders ever get indicted, they'll step out of the leadership position." Democrats have no such rule, right?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: That's correct. They're not stupid enough to do it. (Laughing)
RUSH: Yeah. (Laughing). So all they have to do is convince Ronnie Earle to do what he did and you're out.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Yeah, and Ronnie Earle has done it many times before. He doesn't care about winning a case or that. He abuses his office to play politics.
RUSH: Okay, so you're not saying in this story that there's nobody in the House that can put together an agenda and lead it?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: No, no, no, no. What I'm saying is, just take the situation where we had to go spend, what, three or four weeks through a leadership race, that takes time out of putting the actual agenda for the year together. Poor old John Boehner, when he got elected majority leader, he had to put together a staff of 20 people. He had to go out and hire 20 people. Obviously he wants to hire good people. That takes time. Then those people have to get comfortable in what their assignments and responsibilities are. That takes time. So we have been kicked off a track. I'm not criticizing the leadership for it.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: It's just what happens when, in the middle of a Congress, you disrupt the leadership.
RUSH: I understand all that, but to those of us out here in the red states, outside the Beltway, it seems that there's been a loss of discipline in both the House and the Senate, mostly in the Senate, but there's some in the House, too, on the conservative side. I mean, I know you've got some moderate Republicans in the House, but it's largely conservative, and they campaign on conservative issues and a conservative agenda, and somehow they get to Washington and after a number of years they forget that. They start moderating a little bit so as not to offend the media there, not to offend the Democrats, whatever, and it seems like the whole conservative agenda gets watered down, and so when you say that they need to take some time to put together an agenda, put together some people, those of us out here are simply saying, "It's just conservatism. It works every time it's tried." Just go back to that.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, that's just it. We have an agenda. It's in place all along. It's limited government, lower taxes, tort reform, protect the people from the judiciary, protect the family from the culture wars. That's our vision and our philosophy and our world view. Actually putting that in bills and having it work through the committees and bringing it to the floor is very difficult -- and I've gotta tell you, Rush, I am very proud of what we did last year. I set an agenda the first year as majority leader. We had the most productive legislative year that we've had. I mean, we put three tort reform bills on the president's desk. We've been working on that for ten years. Finally got three through the Senate. We did an energy bill that's a long, far-reaching bill that moves us more to independence on energy, not just go out and find oil and gas, but nuclear energy and all of kinds of other things. I mean, we actually cut spending for the first time since Ronald Reagan. We actually took a look for the first time since 1997 at all entitlement programs and reformed them. Now, granted we only saved $40 billion but it was the first time that we took a look at every entitlement program, which is something I wanted to start and do every year, just like we do all other programs.
RUSH: Yeah, but you created a new one. I know the president wanted it, and I know you carried his water up there, but --
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: The Medicare bill?
RUSH: Yeah, it had to --
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, I just disagree with you. I am very proud of that. We took Republican philosophy to the welfare state. We introduced competition, choice, personal responsibility, new health care methods that were not covered by Medicare. I mean, we are going to save money. You know, the old Medicare system would pay $40,000 to amputate your feet because you are diabetic but wouldn't pay a hundred dollars a month for Glucophage to save your feet and keep you out of the hospital. That is Republican philosophy applied to welfare state program. If we had not done that to welfare reform, we would have never had welfare reform, and believe me, we spent more money getting welfare reform than we were paying.
RUSH: Well, maybe that's why the recipients don't like it, because it is conservatism in a welfare state program.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Exactly right.
RUSH: All right, time is dwindling. Two things. I need to ask you your opinion of this out-of-control immigration debate that's going on right now.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, that's another thing we did last year. We passed a strong border security bill and an enforcement bill, and that's what needs to be done right now. The American people don't believe the federal government are going to protect our borders and enforce the law before you do anything else in immigration reform, and I believe that, and so we had a -- I had a strategy that we would build a virtual wall along the Mexican border. That we would get rid of this catch-and-release philosophy and go to catch-and-remove philosophy, that we would start using real, verifiable IDs so that an employer knows that he's hiring an illegal or not and then enforce the law against the employers, and we would dry up some of the jobs that attract people, especially from Mexico, to come over here and work. That kind of pressure would allow you to look at and think about a guest worker program later.
RUSH: But what do you think about the debate? I know that you feel proud of what you did, but what's going on right now is above and beyond that. What do you think of the general overall debate and its focus? I've got about a minute and a half here for this answer. We'll hold you through the next break because I still want to get to Cynthia McKinney.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Okay. I think what the Senate is doing, came out of the judiciary committee is awful. The McCain-Kennedy bill is just... It undermines the rule of law. It undermines our ability to protect our sovereignty. It will encourage more illegal immigration rather than discourage illegal immigration. That's the Senate's debate. The House is standing firm on doing border security and protecting and enforcing the law against what the Senate's doing.
RUSH: So you expect those two bills to be reconciled when they go to conference?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, I'm not in leadership anymore, but I'm suggesting to the leadership, "Don't go to conference with a bill like that coming out of the Senate, until we have debated and passed an immigration reform bill out of the House, forcing the Senate to get rid of all this McCain-Kennedy stuff and focus on border security and enforcement of the law." That's what needs to be done first.
RUSH: And if there is no conference and there's no bill, then we just have a bunch of pontificating going on in the Senate? It's an election year and you got a bunch of people --
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: There you go. You take it to the election. Let the American people decide.
RUSH: Exactly right. Okay, hang on just a moment. We got a little break here. It's the bottom of the hour and we'll get into a couple more things with Congressman Tom DeLay. Specifically, he says he's going to file an ethics complaint against Cynthia McKinney. I'll ask him about that when we come back after this.
RUSH: We welcome back Tom DeLay, Congressman Tom DeLay, who announced his resignation this week. Before I get on to Cynthia McKinney, I meant to ask you this in the previous segment when you were talking about spending, but you have a chance here to tell people how the House works, particularly on the Republican side. You're conservative, and you said that you're very proud of how spending was held and you made a real dent in it for the first time since 1997. It was only $40 billion and even at that there were other conservatives in the House who were not happy with it. Mike Pence is one. So you're conservative, he's a conservative, and yet there are divergent views on how you define success. Is there -- I don't want to say a disunity problem in the House, but how does that play out as you, the Hammer, the leader, go day to day trying to get people aligned and vote together on these issues?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, I'm glad you brought it up, because I hope people can understand that the Republican conference in the House of Representatives have divergent views. Our most liberal member is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat. So the spectrum is not that wide, but they do have divergent views, and when I was whip, I instituted what was called "Grow the Vote," and I knew that at one time over the 11 years we got down to a five-vote margin. So if six Republicans were against what we were doing, we would lose.
So we were almost forced to work together, work out our differences, and come up with something that would get us 218 votes. That's very difficult to do. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of building relationships and trust with each other, but we were able to hold it together and get as much of the conservative agenda that we could get with the votes that we had available. Sure, if I were king, the world would look a lot different today than it would trying to work with 232 of the members of the House of Representatives. But this whole notion that we're not interested in spending, or somebody said we're "spending like drunken sailors," it's just not true.
If you look at the trend lines of when we first took over, particularly spending as a percent of gross national product, we have done a lot, not only to hold down spending, the opposite is also true. If the Democrats were in control, spending would be three times what it is right now. I mean, we in the House have passed tax cuts every year we've been in session. The opposite of that is it's been 12 years since the federal government has raised taxes. Why? Because of Republican majority. We didn't come here to raise taxes. We cut taxes every year.
So my point is that, sure, out of 232 members we've probably got 30 or 40 that would be classified as moderate, and there are some conservatives that would like to change the world overnight. But I'm not being pragmatic. I'm just understanding what the votes are available and what you can do with the votes that you have available, and I think we've done some pretty amazing things, on very small margins. When I came into Congress in 1985, there was only 185 members of the Republican conference, 185. In other words, the Democrats were running around with almost a hundred-vote margin. The best we've been is right now with a 15-vote margin in the House, and we've done some pretty amazing things.
RUSH: So you're saying you can only get what you can get. Let's also not leave the president out of this equation. The president, you know, he submits a budget every year, and he hasn't vetoed any of the spending bills, and you, as the leader in the House on the Republican side, you're the one who carries the president's water, correct?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: But he hasn't vetoed it because we have the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and we agree on what the number-- Actually the president has provided the discipline against the Senate. I know my Senate colleagues won't like this, but they love spending money, and the House and the president have held numbers down. It's been the president providing the discipline, particularly over the last three years that I was majority leader, where he started cutting the rate of growth three years ago, we actually reduced the rate of growth. Two years ago, we actually froze spending, and last year we actually cut spending, and the president provided that discipline, because we're not going to send him a bill to veto. We're going to send him a bill he'll agree to sign. That's why he hasn't vetoed any bills.
RUSH: All right. Cynthia McKinney.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Ah.
RUSH: You said on Fox today that she's racist and has pretty much used racism as her leverage the whole time she's been in the House. You also say that you are going to file an ethics complaint against her. Tell us about these things.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, first of all, I have to tell you that I have the utmost respect for the United States Capitol Police. These guys are under tremendous pressure to protect precious property and precious lives on Capitol Hill, and they've done an outstanding job and are incredibly courageous. On 9/11 when the planes were headed towards the Capitol and towards the Pentagon, you know what the Capitol Police did? They stayed in the building. The rest of us ran. These people have incredible courage. I lost one. I had a Capitol Policeman, two of them, one of them killed in my office and one of them killed outside of my office protecting me and my young staff.
RUSH: When was this? When was this?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: This is about eight years ago. A shooter came through, killed an officer at the door, ran into my office and killed John Gibson, who's very close to me, one of my security officers, in my office.
RUSH: You were there?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: I was there, and he did it in such a way, it was unbelievable. He let the shooter run past him. He was in plane clothes and had to yell at him to turn around because he knew if he shot him in the back he could shoot the young people sitting at the desk in front of him, and he took bullets point-blank and it killed him. These are people... In fact, it took courage to confront McKinney. He didn't know that she wasn't a suicide bomber. He didn't know. She didn't have a congressional pin on. She had changed her hairstyle. He didn't immediately recognize her, and yet he showed the courage to go confront her and bring her back to the control point, and she punched him. That is just -- and then explains afterwards that it was because he was white that he stopped her. That's incredibly outrageous, and what I said was, if somebody else does not file an ethics charge, I will.
RUSH: Well, do you think anybody will? Or will it be up to you?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: I would hope so. What she did brings embarrassment to the House. That in itself is a violation of House rules.
RUSH: Well, you know, even the Atlanta newspaper editorializing on this yesterday said that she's just stupid. All she would have had to have done was stop, tell the officer who she was, apologize for not wearing the pin and go back through the metal detector, and she would have had a friend for life.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: That's right.
RUSH: She had to make a big scene out of it, and I'll tell you what, this is the thing, the Democrats are up in arms today at her over this, because they thought they had you on the front page, and your resignation, they thought they had killed you off, and now here comes Cynthia McKinney and she's taking all the oxygen out of your room and she's become the focal point. They can't go forward with culture of corruption with her out there now, and I think this will be a great move to file an ethics complaint against her, and especially if you're the one to do it, because that sends a signal that you haven't been defeated and you're not going to take any of this lying down and you're still Tom DeLay and you're still who you are and you're pursuing what you believe in.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, you know, I am going to defend these Capitol Police, and I am going to let the American people know that they are incredibly professional and courageous, and I'm just not going to allow this to happen.
RUSH: You said on Fox today that she is racist and if this quote is accurate, that she has a long history of racism, everything is racism with her, it's incredible arrogance.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: That's entirely true. Her whole career, she bases everything on race, everything that's bad that has ever happened to her is because she's black. She is anti-Semitic. That's just who she is.
RUSH: Well, you know, this is, I don't want to say "courageous," and I'm not trying to butter you up here, but these are charges that you just don't hear going in this direction. You normally have the racism charge being made against people like you.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Yeah. Well, she is a racist.
RUSH: All right, gotta ask you one more question before we go, and that is the press, some members of the media are having a little argument over who broke the story of your resignation. Chris Matthews thinks he broke it. TIME Magazine's Mike Allen thinks he broke it. Who did you tell first?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Mike Allen.
RUSH: You told Mike Allen first.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Yes, sir.
RUSH: All right.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: He's been very fair to me. This is part of me trying to change the culture in Washington, DC, and change the culture of the press: reward your friends and you know the rest of it. Mike Allen has been very good to me -- not good to me -- he's been very fair with me, and I wanted somebody that would be recognized by the mainstream media as being a fair person to get the story and get it out there, and I gave it to him. He came to my house Monday afternoon and interviewed me, and he was writing the story. I made the mistake of calling Chris Matthews before he had filed the story, and Chris immediately ran to the press, but it was all about the same time.
RUSH: What about the president? When did you inform him?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Monday afternoon.
RUSH: What was his reaction?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: He was a little sad.
RUSH: Did he try to talk you out of it?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: No. He was very gracious. He knew that I had been going through a process of trying to decide what I was supposed to do, and so he honored that process and honored my decision, but was very gracious and thanked me for all the work I had done.
RUSH: So when will your last day be? Have you figured it out?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: No. I haven't thought about any of that. We're going to be on Easter break. I'm going to decide that. There's a few things I want to clean up for my district before I leave that I had started this year, and it will be dictated by the congressional schedule.
RUSH: But you are going to retire or resign in enough time for there to be a special election so that --
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: No, there won't be a special election. Texas has a law that there's only two dates that you can have a special election, November and May, and this weekend the deadline for the May special election will have passed.
RUSH: So it's going to be an open seat election in November?
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Yes.
RUSH: Oh, okay. Well, look, next time we chat, you'll know more about what you're going to do post your resignation, and I'll be interested to hear that, how you're going to carry the water outside Congress and try to accomplish your objectives. We'll look forward to that.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: Well, thank you, and I hope you and I can talk privately about that, because I'd love to have your advice.
RUSH: I'd love to talk anytime. Let's go play golf!
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: I've got time for that.
RUSH: Let's go fly to St. Andrews.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: (Laughing.) I'll pay.
RUSH: We'll stay in the Old Course Hotel.
CONGRESSMAN DeLAY: I love it.
RUSH: No, you're not paying. We're going to ram it down their throats. (Laughing.) Thanks for your time. That's Congressman Tom DeLay on the phone with us in Washington.