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Republicans look towards damage control

Conservative magazine editor feels DeLay case will impact effectiveness
/ Source: msnbc.com

With former House Majority Leader Tom Delay posing for a police mug shot and the White House bracing for a possible indictment in the CIA leak case, the Republican party is in damage control mode.

On Friday, Terry Jeffrey, editor of the conservative weekly publication "Human Events," joined MSNBC anchor Randy Meier to discuss the potential impact of these events on the GOP and next year's congressional elections.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

RANDY MEIER: Tom Delay's attorney tried to spare his client from having to take that (mug shot).  It turned into glamour shot of sorts, which has been all the talk today -- not as much fodder for the Democrats as they had previously hoped.  I assume that's probably why he did it that way.  However, in the event Tom Delay is acquitted, could he still lead in the Republican Party? 

TERRY JEFFREY:  Well, first of all, I think Tom Delay will be acquitted and the smile you see on his face from this morning on that photo is yet another indication we've seen from Delay since he's been indicted that he's absolutely confident that he will be acquitted because the prosecutor doesn't have any evidence against him. 

But another question is, whether or not the Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to put Delay back in as their majority leader next year when they're going to face very tough mid term elections.    I suspect they recognize already, a main theme of the Democratic campaign next year is going to be that the Republican Party has become corrupt.  I don't think that's true but that's clearly where the Democrats are going and I think the Republicans are going to have to find an effective way of countering it. 

MEIER:  Let me ask you something about his fundraising abilities.  As you know he is a leader in fundraising.  Can he still have that kind of effect if acquitted?

JEFFREY:  Well, he's going to have some effect.  But the truth is, no one gets to be a leader in either party in the Congress unless they're an excellent fundraiser.  That's one of the things that get them there.  I don't think he's going to lose all his fundraising abilities, but quite frankly, he has special interests pumping money into both parties because they're trying to win influence and interests that are trying to win influence always for the leadership because they have the most impact about what goes on in Congress.  So I think your going to see other leaders of the Congress and both parties raising more money next year then you see Tom Delay raising.

MEIER:  You mentioned the Democrats will try to take advantage of all this, citing a Republican tactic of a few years ago, citing 'we are on higher ground then the other party' issue.  Besides Delay, we have the White House under a cloak of suspicion; we have the CIA leak situation.  How do you see Republicans fairing in this next phase of election?  And if you look forward into the major election of 2008?

JEFFREY:  Well the Republican Party is clearly at a political nadir right now.  They're going to have to start rebuilding, first of all from their base.  I think the biggest problems Republicans have politically is that the Conservative base for the party is very disenchanted with the leadership in Washington.  I think you see it's a little bit of movement in the House on that score.  The White House, I don't think has gotten the message yet.  However, I think a lot of the mood for next year's elections is going to be determined by what happens next Friday when special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury expires.  If he indicts people in the White House, that's going to be a dominant issue in the media and politics for next year.  If he doesn't there's a chance we can get back on a debate on issues, which I think would be much better.  But right now, it all falls in the hands of Patrick Fitzgerald, I believe. 

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