New TV Ads Attack Tom DeLay

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 30, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.


TV AD: Tom DeLay can't wash his hands of corruption by involving Congress in one family's personal tragedy, but Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: A liberal activist group going after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search), highlighting recent ethics complaints against DeLay and accusing him of exploiting Terri Schiavo's (search) case for politics.

Joining me now is Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, the group behind the ad, and Republican strategist Genevieve Wood. The big question, Robert: Why are you hammering — get the pun — the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay?

ROBERT BOROSAGE, CO-DIRECTOR, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE: Well, Tom DeLay is the corrupt leader, the self-described hammer, of one of the most corrupt Congresses in recent memory. And that corruption is costing Americans billions in corporate giveaways and higher drug prices, and in other measures that benefit corporate contributors and not citizens. And so, we think it's time for DeLay to be removed from his leadership position.

GIBSON: Let me just ask you, because when you throw around words like "corrupt" so easily, delineate your idea of corruption.

BOROSAGE: Well, DeLay's been rebuked three times by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, a conservative page, as you know, says that he has a foul odor of the Beltway that is disreputable. We agree with that. We think it's time for Republicans to clean their house and for Congress to get new leadership that is not involved.

GIBSON: OK. Genevieve Wood, you've held your fire, but go ahead.

GENEVIEVE WOOD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, the fact is, John, if Tom DeLay is guilty of something, I'll be one of the first Republicans to come out and say, "Tom DeLay, you've got to step aside."

But right now, everything out there is nothing more than an accusation. That's all they are. The charges being made by this so-called campaign for a stronger America, which is really a campaign led by wealthy democratic dollars, who've been beaten in election after election by Tom DeLay and Republicans — I mean, that's the truth there.

Look, these are accusations. We have a Senate finance committee investigating some; we have a prosecutor down in Texas, a Democrat, by the way, investigating others. We have a federal agency investigating some of these matters. If he's guilty, the truth will come out. But until he is proven guilty, he deserves the same thing every other American does, to be presumed innocent.

GIBSON: Robert, why do I think that no matter what the facts turn out to be, nonetheless, you and the Democrats have found somebody that is a lightning bolt for fundraising? This is like how the Republicans use Hillary Clinton — put her picture on a mailer and you get checks. It's the same that Tom DeLay gets Democrats excited — they're angry, they send money when you attack him.

BOROSAGE: Actually, most people don't even know who Tom DeLay is. The point of this is that this is the leader of the Congress who has been rebuked three times by a bipartisan committee of the House for violating their own ethics rules.

The result of that is he shot the referee — he gutted the committee and left it toothless. He's had three aides indicted by Texas citizens, a grand jury of Texas citizens in Texas, for money corruption. And those are his aides running the pack that he helped set up.

Now, at some point you would think Republicans would want to have leadership that was not corrupt.

GIBSON: Right. But, Robert, as you throw these charges around, you're using indictment as if it's conviction.

WOOD: That's right. It's not! And the fact is, the same Texas prosecutor who's indicted other folks has yet to indict Tom DeLay himself. He's admitted that he'd like to. This is a guy who's gone after other Republicans.

Look, the fact is, if there are allegations here that are true, I think they're going to come out. And I will tell you, I wish Tom DeLay would come forward and address a lot of these allegations because I don't think it's good for the Republican Party as a whole.

I don't think it's good for conservatives — who frankly have liked Mr. DeLay for a lot of the policy stances he's obviously taken in Congress and fought for — to have to defend charges and allegations when he could come forward and clear his name.

I hope he'll do that.

GIBSON: Well, Mr. Borosage, one more thing, since you say, "Well, nobody knows who he is anyway," then what's the point of putting an ad together and buying TV time and telling the public about somebody they don't know?

BOROSAGE: Well, because Americans should know about this. This corruption is costing us billions of dollars in corporate giveaways in higher drug prices. And so, it's of great concern and should be a great concern of Americans, so we're trying to inform them of what's going on in Washington — what people inside the Beltway know, but too often people outside the Beltway don't know. Look, this isn't a partisan issue, the Wall Street Journal is not a democratic page.

GIBSON: The Wall Street Journal isn't running these ads.

BOROSAGE: Well, their editorial page said that Tom DeLay had a stench of the Beltway about him.

WOOD: They didn't say he was guilty of anything. They didn't say he was guilty of one thing.

BOROSAGE: They weren't trying to try him, they were suggesting...

GIBSON: All right. You guys are going to have to argue about this. I've got to run. We will do more about this when Tom DeLay is found guilty, if he ever is.

Mr. Borosage, thanks; Genevieve Wood, thanks.

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