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DeLay: Republicans got a ‘Texas whupping’

MSNBC's Rita Cosby talked to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Wednesday morning.
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One of the House seats the Democrats snagged from Republicans came in the Texas district of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Republicans have held this seat for more than 20 years.  Democrat Nick Lampson defeated Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.  Sekula-Gibbs will finish the last two months of Tom DeLay’s term before Lampson takes over. 

Former Congressman Tom DeLay announced his resignation from Congress back in April to fight corruption charges in Texas.

MSNBC's Rita Cosby talked to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Wednesday morning.

Below is a transcript of their conversation:

MSNBC’S RITA COSBY:  Congressman, how would you best describe last night—an avalanche, Black Tuesday or a political tsunami? 

FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER TOM DELAY:  I would call it a Texas whupping.  That’s for sure.  The Republicans really took a bath last night.  I don’t think it was a wave.  It’s less than the average of elections in the second term of a two-term president, so in my opinion, the Democrats didn’t win. The Republicans lost. 

COSBY:  What went wrong for your party? 

DELAY:  Well, I think over the last couple of years, we just played not to lose, and we didn’t fight for the things that we really believe in.  I think fundamental tax reform, redesigning government, winning the war on terror, a strong immigration policy, turning around the culture of death, stopping overactive judiciary—none of that was articulated to the American people.  And the Republicans teamed up with the independents and dumped on their incumbents. 

COSBY:  Speaking of what was articulated, exit polls show that an astounding three-fourths of those polled said corruption and scandals played a key role in their vote.  Were the Republicans just to tainted after issues with Bob Ney, you and especially Mark Foley?

DELAY: The Democrats, with help from the national media, did a very good job of pointing out the corruption of Republicans.  In my case, I haven’t been found guilty of anything.  In fact, I have been indicted on laws that didn’t exist.  But others—FBI investigations, sex scandals—

COSBY:  What about the Foley factor? 

DELAY:  The Foley factor was the last straw.  It’s a double standard.  The Democrats had plenty of corruption problems, too.  I mean, Harry Reid, Alan Mollohan—you have William Jefferson, but it’s a double standard.  Democrats re-elect their corrupt members.  The Republicans throw ours out. 

COSBY:  Last night Howard Dean ripped into the Republicans, saying that Americans instead wanted a party of hope, and he said they voted out the party of, “corruption, fear and sneer.”  What do you say to the Democrats today? 

DELAY:  Well, they shouldn’t get too used to being in the majority, because most of the seats that they won, we will take back in ‘08.  I mean, my own seat, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs got more votes in her special election than Nick Lampson got in his general election. 

COSBY:  How did you feel about the loss of your own seat, personally, Congressman? 

DELAY:  Well, I’m personally disappointed.  Unfortunately, a write-in is almost impossible to do.

COSBY:  Do you think redistricting played a role?

DELAY:  The saving grace is Nick Lampson is going to be a one-term Congressman. 

COSBY:  Do you think redistricting played a role, that you were pushing hard for in Texas? 

DELAY:  No.  What played the role was a federal judge making a terrible ruling that did not allow me to be replaced by a Republican on the ballot.  Because Shelley was on the ballot and she got more votes than Nick got in the general election. 

COSBY:  How do you like hearing the phrase "Speaker Nancy Pelosi?" 

DELAY:  Well, it’s very disappointing, but I understand it, and we’ll just have to wait a little while for the things that we’ve been fighting for—fundamental tax reform, immigration policy, stopping an overactive judiciary—but none of that is going to happen at any time soon.  And the American people immediately are going to be paying at least $2000 more a year in taxes. 

COSBY:  Two questions for you—the president is going to address the nation a few hours from now.  What do you think he should say? 

DELAY:  I think he ought to say, I will work with you when you stand for something, and hopefully, we can work together.  But I know Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid—the only way that they’re going to work with the president is if the president capitulates to them.  A closely-divided Senate means not much is going to get done for the next two years.  What you are going to see is investigations, de-funding the war and raising taxes, because they can raise taxes by doing nothing, and let the tax extensions expire.  So that’s probably what you have got to look forward to in the next two years. 

COSBY:  There’s been a lot of criticism this morning, some people criticizing Hastert, of course, tainted a bit by the Foley scandal.  What do you think should happen to him?  And also finally, a lot of conservatives in the last 12 hours or so saying Rumsfeld should leave. 

DELAY:  Well, the leadership of the House and the leadership of the Senate are going to have to sit down and think through, take a deep breath.  Don’t run from what you believe in, and look at how you can go forward.

COSBY:  What about Rumsfeld? 

DELAY: I’m a great fan of Don Rumsfeld.  I would not take him out, because he’s done a great job.  He will continue to do a great job in leading the military and winning this war on terror.  Frankly, I think that would be a great signal to the Democrats that we’re not going to capitulate to you.  We’ll work with you, but we’re not going to give up what we believe in. 

COSBY:  Former Congressman Tom DeLay. Thank you so much.

DELAY:  Thank you, Rita.