Congressman Tells Why He Jumped the Democratic Ship

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 10, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: In a political move that has angered Democrats and sent shock waves through the House of Representatives, Louisiana Congressman Rodney Alexander (search) jumped across the aisle and switched parties.

The one-time Democrat is the newest member of the Grand Old Party.

Joining us now for the exclusive first interview, the newest Republican congressman, Rodney Alexander.


COLMES: Congressman, let me put a couple of words on the screen that you've been called by your former fellow Democrats: coward, turncoat, traitor and confused. What's your reaction to that?

SEN. RODNEY ALEXANDER, R-LA.: I don't comment on the first ones. Confused, I was. But I'm not anymore.

COLMES: All right. Congressman, look, I don't have a problem. People have the freedom to switch parties in this country. I criticize you for the way you did it.

You waited until 20 minutes before the end of the filing deadline to switch parties after saying you were proud to be a Democrat shortly before that, giving the Democrats very little chance to put up an opponent.

And that's why Democrats are angry at you. Not just that you switched. It's the timing of it. It's how you did it.

ALEXANDER: Well, in the first place, it was more than 20 minutes. It was on the last day.

But I qualify, in Louisiana, we have three days to qualify, from 8 to 5, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I qualified on Wednesday as a Democrat. And another individual qualified as a Republican.

And on Thursday evening, another individual qualified as a Democrat. And at that time, I began to understand that the base that I desperately needed to win re-election perhaps wasn't there and as solid as I had expected.

Because, for several months now, I have been defending my vote within my own party. Because I'm pro-life. I'm pro-family. I'm pro-gun. I'm for a strong defense. I'm for the good things...

COLMES: So are many Democrats, Congressman. You know, but a lot of people gave you money, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They poured money into your first campaign. They poured hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Other people gave you money, believing you were standing up for them as a Democrat. And those people, don't they have a right to be offended by pouring money into you, putting you where you are today and then have you go in the other direction?

ALEXANDER: There were several people that put money into my campaign. But a lot of people put money into my campaign, because I'm Rodney Alexander and I haven't let them down.

I have served as a Democrat for two years now. And represented my district as well as I could. I have worked as hard as I know how, 100 percent into my district.

The people of Louisiana are the ones that I represent and will continue to do so.

If there are those — and I have made the statement that if my Democratic colleagues — that have given to me this election cycle and the Democratic leader PACs, I will refund that money.

And if there are others out there who gave to me under the impression that I was going to always stay a Democrat and were not giving that money to Rodney Alexander, then I will refund that money if they will let me know.

HANNITY: That's fair. Congressman, welcome to the right side. We're glad to have you. Welcome aboard.

You know, I love how liberals lecture us about being pro-choice, but they won't give us choice in schools, won't give us choice about gun rights, won't give us a whole variety of choices.

You made a choice because it was right for you and you're called a coward, a traitor, confused. You said it hurts like the Dickens. I bet that does hurt.

ALEXANDER: Well, it does. I understand the frustration, because you know, there were those who felt like the Democrats would regain the majority in the House.

And because I did what I did, well, it weakened those chances. But I did what I did because I wanted to do what I could do for the best of my district.

HANNITY: You also said you're ashamed of what the Democratic Party now stands for.

One of the things I noticed at the convention is, I didn't see Evan Bayh (search) there at all. I barely saw Joe Lieberman.

Zell Miller (search) is no longer wanted in this party anymore and I go look at Zell Miller's voting record. He's a Kennedy Democrat, JFK Democrat. He's in the tradition of Scoop Jackson, Truman, JFK and all these guys.

You seem to be the real Democrat. If I was you, I'd be proud of what you did here and don't let their name stabbing or their backstabbing or their mean spiritedness bother you. I promise you, we have open arms here in the Republican Party. We're a diverse party.

ALEXANDER: Well, thank you. And again, I understand the frustration. In Washington, there's competition for that leadership roles. And I hate that some of my senators back home have had bad things to say about me. And I understand.

HANNITY: Don't worry about Mary Landrieu. I'll talk to her.

COLMES: Some people weren't that kind of Jim Jeffords when he went the other way. Thank you very much for being with us, sir.


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