Here are some outtakes from the cutting room floor, so to speak — in addition to quotes that made it into my story — from my interview with Tom DeLay on Wednesday night, one night before he went on The Today Show.
DeLay called me after an emergency trip to the veterinarian for one of his two Bichon Frise. Teased about his breed of dogs, he laughed and agreed that “they are not dogs ‘The Hammer’ should have.”
Surprisingly, DeLay was not brash when it came to his dancing skills, which Americans were (some would say, unfortunately) exposed to when he had a stint on the popular ABC show, “Dancing With The Stars”. He agreed that his dancing skills were horrible.
Some other things that struck me as I spoke to DeLay: He seemed really dumbfounded and saddened that conservatives did not circle the wagons around him once the going got tough.
He singled out Mark Levin for praise for having his back. DeLay said that even the liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews called his case was a “crock.”
DeLay also reflected on whether his brashness and perceived arrogance negatively influenced the judges and jury.
DeLay lso candidly how the GOP establishment is still clueless in a lot of ways about the current media landscape and even more surprised that, despite his travails, he still supports the direct election of judges. His answers to questions about whether he has thought about spending time in jail, his deep faith, and what the “biggest mistake of his life” was were also compelling and illuminating.
His (horrible) dancing skills:
Tom DeLay: People who come up to me and say, ‘Oh you were on ‘Dancing With The Stars’ and you were so good.’ I look at them kinda funny and say, ‘Oh you don’t know much about dancing, do you?’
Whether his brashness and lack of repenting hurt him with the judge:
DeLay:I would hope that arrogance or lack of remorse — because I am innocent — doesn’t mean I should go to prison. But it tells you a lot about this whole travesty.
The criminalization of politics:
DeLay:This is is the criminalization of politics. It’s no longer good enough to defeat elected officials. You have to destroy them. Put them in jail. Destroy their families. Put them in the grave, and dance all over it.
Biggest surprise with media coverage:
DeLay: The silence of the conservative media.…Conservatives ran for the hills from the left, it’s pretty amazing.
Radio Host Mark Levin:
DeLay:The only real friend I have [who supported me] is Mark Levin.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:
DeLay: To be honest with you, Chris Matthews thinks this is a crock.
His liberal Democrat lawyer:
DeLay: My own lawyer, a liberal Democrat, hated me before he accepted my case. He said so many times, ‘You are not the guy I read about in the papers.’”
How he never lost a vote he whipped in the House:
DeLay: I invented a whole new way of whipping votes. It was called ‘growing the vote’. I worked with Members to give them ownership of bills, so they’d vote for it when it got to the floor. Liberals could never figure out why we were so successful.
His Trial In Travis County, Texas:
DeLay: Travis County is like San Francisco — an island of liberalism.
We did a poll in Travis County. I had name ID like Barack Obama – I had 90% name ID. And, 60% of those who knew me hated me.
DeLay: I have always argued courts should not be involved in redistricting except through the voting rights act.”
It doesn’t say in the Constitution that you have to redistrict every ten years. You can do it every year if you want, in my opinion.
We redistricted so people of Texas could be represented by their political values, not to increase my power.
His biggest mistake:
DeLay: The biggest mistake of my life was talking to Ronnie Earle. Lawyers said interview with him or they will indict you … spoke one and half hours, and they pulled out two phrases out from one and half hours and made it seem like where you can construe beforehand that the transaction was taking place.
What he would say to Ronnie Earle if he ran into him:
DeLay: I wouldn’t say anything to him. I would pray for him. I’m instructed to pray for your enemies.
Possibly going to jail:
DeLay: If I end up in jail, it won’t be pleasant. I just spent 3 hours in jail and I didn’t like it. I got the Lord with me.
But I can handle it.
Coordinated attempt by national liberal groups to “get him:”
DeLay: I hesitate to call it a conspiracy, but it was a sophisticated, well-funded, coordination that made sure that the media was hounding me at the right time — when judges were about to make decisions — none talking about the law, but talking about how bad Tom DeLay is.
These groups included Media Matters, CREW, and groups funded by George Soros.
I was standing up and feeling alone a lot of the time to fight this very sophisticated effort.
His advice to the Republican establishment in power:
DeLay: Stay strong for what you believe in, no matter what happens. Whatever happens, first find out if it is real or not. If it is not real, stand up and fight, and circle the wagons, and fight for what they believe in.
[The Left] has a communications operation … they can put together documentaries at the snap of the fingers. We don’t have anything like that.Republicans still don’t get it.
Republicans still think if you raise enough money, and put TV ads up you’re gonna win, and that’s just crock.
DeLay: I don’t know. Politics is pretty much over for me. It’s amazing how many sitting Members ask me for advice, though.
I’m not whining. It’s difficult to make a living — no one wants to hire someone associated with all of this.
Has he seen any of the movies about him, like “Casino Jack”?
DeLay: No. I’ve seen clips, and it is fiction
DeLay: I was told by my lawyers and everyone who looked at this that I would not be found guilty, so i don’t listen to them anymore!
Direct election of judges:
DeLay: I’m all for elected judges. You got to have some way to hold them accountable. I would support appointing judges if you could have recall elections every so often.
The Judiciary should be held accountable just like anyone else.
The emotional and financial toll of being caught up in the legal system:
DeLay: Well, that’s part of the criminalizaton of politics. My wife has serious health problems and depression from the stress from the last eight years.
If I didn’t have friends who hired me for some consulting, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills.
I don’t have any money. I was a pest control operator when I went into office. And I didn’t use my position for any financial gain.
DeLay: The most important [silver lining] is my faith has been strengthened.
I pray to Jesus every day, and He holds my hand.
Another small silver lining is people are paying attention to what is going on. This criminalization of politics comes out of the Communist Manifest — destroy your enemies.
If this is allowed to continue, this will further discourage people from running for office. I can’t tell you the number of people who want to run for Congress but tell me they won’t because of what has happened to me. They don’t want to put their families through this.
Elected officials are scared to stand up for what they believe in because they are afraid they’ll get their heads knocked off.