[In light of Tom Delay's November 24, 2010 conviction on money-laundering and conspiracy charges, The Dubya Report invites readers to review our profile of the one-time Republican leader, originally published April 20, 2005.]
Updated April 4, 2006
At a weekly Republican policy lunch in the Senate Mansfield Room in early April, Tom DeLay rose to declare to his colleagues that he was the victim of a Democratic conspiracy, blaming financier George Soros and the grass-roots group MoveOn.org for his woes. The GOP agenda was in danger, DeLay reportedly said, because Democrats funded by Soros were targeting him in attempt to keep the party from making progress on its initiatives.
A letter to Houston-area voters blamed a "syndicate" of Democrats, advocacy groups and a "legion of Democrat-friendly press."
In recent days, however, DeLay has come under criticism from within his own party, and in the editorial pages of journals from across the political spectrum, including the Wall Street Journal.
Chris Shays, a moderate Republican Congressman from Connecticut was the first Republican to call for DeLay to step down. "I think he's hurting the Congress," Shays said. "I think he's hurting the Republican majority and I think he's hurting individual Republicans who are up for re-election...."
"If he chose to resign as majority leader until these matters are resolved, that's probably not the worst idea," Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo, a conservative, told the Denver Post.
"I don't think we should try to oust him," Tancredo said, but stepping aside "may be a productive move."
Sen. Rick Santorum, a leading Republican conservative, said on ABC News "This Week" that he thought DeLay needed to "lay out what he did and why he did it." Asked about reports that DeLay's family members were on PAC payrolls, and that he had taken trips financed by lobbyists, Santorum said " "If those things were not out there, obviously they wouldn't be raising them.... And so there are issues that he has to deal with personally."
On April 12, Newt Gingrich told CBS's Gloria Borger, " the burden is on [DeLay] to prove" his innocence," adding "I think the jury's out." "DeLay's problem isn't with the Democrats; DeLay's problem is with the country," Gingrich said. "And so DeLay has a challenge: to lay out a case that the country comes to believe, that the country decides is legitimate...."
The White House itself seemed to vacillate. On Monday April 11, White House spokesman Scot McClellan described DeLay and Bush as friends. "Majority Leader DeLay is someone the president considers a friend," he said. "The president looks forward to continuing to work closely with the majority leader to get things done on behalf of the American people." By midweek, however, McClellan appeared to be trying to distance Bush from DeLay, saying they were not close friends. "I think there are different levels of friendship with anybody," he said.