The Note: Brutal And Decisive


Former House Majority Leader (and soon to be former Member of Congress) Tom DeLay (R-TX) travels from Texas to Washington, DC this morning. He is expected to conduct several television interviews today explaining his decision to resign his seat in Congress and his decision to not seek reelection in November.

President Bush took a call from Tom DeLay on his flight back home from Cincinnati yesterday and thanked him for his service and wished him well, reports ABC's Ann Compton.

The call was not a discussion as much as it was Tom DeLay informing President Bush of a decision he had already made, reports ABC's Jessica Yellin.

"There was no effort, apparently, to talk him out of it," adds Yellin.

Compton goes on to report that Scott McClellan told the gaggle this morning, "Tom DeLay has been a good ally and the White House has worked very closely with him on the Republican agenda."

DeLay very first post-news-break TV chat was this morning with our boffo Houston affiliate, KTRK. Later on CBN with Pat Robertson, DeLay talked about how he'd thought long and hard and fasted for spiritual help in making his decision.

"It will no longer be a national race like it was," declared DeLay on Fox News Channel this morning.

On his Democratic opponent Nick Lampson: "His money will dry up. This is probably the worst day of his campaign."

When asked if he would hold political office in the future, DeLay responded, "I don't know that."

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and other House Republican leaders are scheduled to go before cameras to discuss border security, the budget bill, and 527 reform at 3:45 pm ET.

(You can likely add Tom DeLay to the topics to be discussed.)

President Bush will tout his health care initiatives at a White House event at 9:20 am ET in the Roosevelt Room.

And the President's schedule increasingly reflects the fact that it is an election year. Mr. Bush is expected to attend a Republican National Committee finance luncheon at Evermay in Washington, DC at noon ET. (The event is closed to the press and is expected to draw roughly 90 people and $1.7 million for the RNC.)

Mrs. Bush is also doing her part for election year campaign coffers. Today she is in the Show-Me State to help raise funds for Sen. Jim Talent's reelection campaign at 1:30 pm ET. Before the fundraising luncheon, the First Lady meets with young people in St. Charles, MO at a adolescence substance abuse rehab center as part of her "Helping America's Youth" initiative.

Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Brownback (R-KS) are each scheduled to address the annual US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce legislative conference during the group's immigration panel tomorrow from 9 am ET - noon ET. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is scheduled to participate in a political panel at 6:00 pm ET. (Earlier in the day, Chairman Mehlman addresses the American Dental Association at 10:30 am ET. The ADA is HUGE in Pikesville.)

Organizers of the "National Day of Action for Immigrant Rights" planned for April 10 are scheduled to hold a Capitol Hill press conference at 11:00 am ET.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales delivers the "White House briefing" to the group at 1:30 pm ET.

Pew Hispanic Center and Pew Research Center for the People and the Press were scheduled to release an analysis of surveys of American attitudes on immigration, perceptions of immigrants, and support for policy proposals at 9:00 am ET.

Reps. Pelosi (D-CA), Solis (D-CA), and Tauscher (D-CA) discuss national security and its impact on women as part of the Democrats' continued effort to sell their "Real Security" plan to the country at 2:15 pm ET.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean will commemorate the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination at the annual AFSCME remembrance rally at 12:15 pm ET in Memphis, TN.

Gov. Romney (R-MA) attends the 2006 NCAA women's basketball championship luncheon at 11:45 am ET and later attends the championship game at 8:30 pm ET.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State Colin Powell attend the funeral of Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger at 11:00 am ET at Arlington National Cemetery.

DeLay departs:

Mike Allen of Time Magazine sat down with a well-caffeinated Tom DeLay for a 90-minute interview previewing DeLay's announcement today that he will resign his seat in Congress within the next couple of months and he will not seek reelection in November. LINK

The full interview transcript from LINK

The Galveston County Daily News also was granted an interview and got the photographic tour of DeLay's career at his Sugar Land, TX home. LINK

The New York Times includes a brief look at the candidates thinking of jumping into the race to succeed Tom DeLay in Texas-22. LINK

"Simply put Tom is one of the most effective and gifted leaders the Republican Party has ever known. . . The country owes Tom a great debt of gratitude for helping lead America in a new direction," said DeLay's successor as Majority Leader, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) in a written statement issued last night.

"Tom's invaluable presence on the campaign trail will certainly be missed as we continue the battle to strengthen our House Republican Majority, but on this day, we celebrate him for time and again delivering on our party's bold agenda of reform. To say Tom was a driving force in every key accomplishment of this Republican Congress is no understatement," said NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).

The Los Angeles Times trio of Simon, Hook, and Curtius has former DeLay aide Stuart Roy saying that he thought his former boss was "deterred by the prospect of a tough fight and -- even if he were reelected -- life in Congress without a major leadership position. 'As much as he is ideologically driven and cause-oriented, he's also very much a pragmatist when it comes to the art of the possible,' Roy said." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins reports that DeLay "hasn't been accused of wrongdoing in the corruption probe. But prosecutors have been investigating Mr. DeLay's contacts with Mr. Abramoff, according to House documents and Mr. DeLay's lawyer."

Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman and Jeff Zeleny write that DeLay's "recent travails clearly had hurt his fellow Republicans, opening them to long-standing Democratic charges that they are engaged in a 'culture of corruption' at the expense of the American people," but that "a senior Republican official said the decision not to seek re-election was DeLay's and that neither the White House nor House leaders urged him to drop his campaign." LINK

Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News sees the recent guilty plea by Tony Rudy, DeLay's former chief of staff, as the catalyst for last night's announcement. LINK

"Rudy's plea agreement did not implicate DeLay in any illegal activities, but by placing the influence-buying efforts of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff directly in DeLay's operation, the former aide may have made an already difficult reelection bid all but out of reach," report the Washington Post's Weisman and Cillizza. LINK

More: "Republicans said that, with DeLay gone, they have a much better chance of holding the seat. Although redistricting took some Republicans out of the district, Bush won 64 percent of the vote there in 2004. According to GOP sources, one almost-certain candidate is Sugar Land Mayor David G. Wallace. Tom Campbell, who was second to DeLay in the primary with 30 percent of the vote, said last night he would run in any special election."

ABC's Jake Tapper provides some excellent reading of his DeLay coverage over the years including DeLay's great capacity for relationship building and some reflections on Tom DeLay from his former colleagues J.C. Watts and Dick Armey. LINK

Per the Center for Responsive Politics, Tom DeLay had roughly $1.3 million in cash on hand in his campaign account at the time of his February 15 filing, which was three weeks prior to his March 7 primary. LINK

The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reports that DeLay is entitled under federal election rules to "convert any or all of the remaining funds from his reelection campaign to his legal expenses, whether or not he resigns, is indicted or loses the election. Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office." LINK

DeLay: Mike Allen:

So, how did get the exclusive? A source familiar with Mike Allen's expense account and stomach says he got a call Sunday morning while he was having breakfast at Damon's in the Waco Hilton. The interview was at 11 am Texas time on Monday. At one point, Mrs. DeLay offered to get the scribe a Quizno's sandwich but he declined. Allen typed up the transcript in the lobby of the Sugar Land Courtyard by Marriott, using a clunky tape recorder from Wal-Mart and earphones from Walgreens.

DeLay: the seat:

Under Texas law, DeLay must either die, be convicted of a felony, or move out of his district to be removed from the November ballot. DeLay told Time Magazine that he is likely to change his official residence from Sugar Land, TX to Alexandria, VA by the end of May.

Depending on when DeLay steps down, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) could call a special election to fill the vacancy. The strongest challengers in that race are expected to be Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace (R-TX) and Tom Campbell, the Republican who finished second to DeLay in last month's Republican primary.

It will be up to the GOP's Executive Committee in the 22nd congressional district of Texas to designate someone to replace DeLay on the November ballot. But party officials say that the winner of a special election -- assuming it is a Republican -- would almost certainly be the one designated by the Executive Committee as the GOP's candidate in November.

"A special election to fill the remainder of DeLay's term likely will be held on the next uniform election date, which is in May. Gov. Rick Perry will set the date," reports the Houston Chronicle. LINK

"The executive committee of the Republican Party in District 22 will vote to designate a replacement for Tom DeLay once he is no longer a resident of the state to run in November," reports ABC's Gina Sunseri.

Republicans from across Texas' 22nd district are already announcing their interest in running against Nick Lampson (D-TX) for Rep. DeLay's House seat, reports the Houston Chronicle. LINK

Campbell, announced that he is "resuming" his bid to represent Texas-22. "Mr. DeLay saw the writing on the wall and made a decision that was best for the Republican Party," Campbell said in a statement. 'The voters sent a message to Mr. DeLay and other career politicians that they want their representatives to conduct business with the people in mind, not the lobbyists. I will go to Washington to serve the people of the 22nd District with strong conservative values."

DeLay: Gigot'ed:

In a must-read editorial, the Wall Street Journal writes: "We took a lot of grief from Republicans for an editorial a year ago warning that Mr. DeLay and his crowd had gone Beltway native. It turns out we understated the problem. A spokesman for Mr. DeLay said last week he was unaware of all of this wrongdoing and is shocked by it. But even if he isn't directly implicated, the former House Majority Leader was at best a terrible judge of character. His former associates could yet end up filling an entire wing at Club Fed."

More from the Wall Street Journal: "The Abramoff story still has a long way to run this election year, and one way or another the Members themselves will not emerge unscathed. If Republicans lose their House majority because GOP voters stay home in disgust, Team DeLay will be one of the reasons."

DeLay: blogs:

"In the end, as he often did, DeLay put the good of the party first. Good for him. I can't think that staying on as a back bencher would have been much fun. He can concentrate on clearing his name and then decide if he wants to start afresh later," writes "Crank" on RedState. LINK

Several contributors in the comments section of the RedState post seem to believe that perhaps DeLay should have taken this action some time ago. LINK

"It's too bad, I think. DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years. It's possible, of course, that he did something wrong along the way. But there is no evidence of that in the public domain. . . DeLay appears to be yet another victim of the Democrats' politics of personal destruction--the only politics they know," writes John Hinderaker at PowerLine. LINK

The Burnt Orange Report out of Austin, TX has an excellent roundup of the DeLay chatter in Texas. LINK

Off the Kuff explains the key distinction between a special election and the regularly scheduled general election and suggests a special may be advantageous for the GOP. In a special, the winner must achieve 50 percent-plus-one to win denying third-party or independent candidates the ability to siphon off votes in a run-off between the top two candidates. LINK

Kos offers this up on his liberal blog Daily Kos: "Republicans will pretend that all of DeLay's sins will wash away and no longer affect congressional Republicans. And the media bots will dutifully repeat that spin." LINK

"Except that every Republican in Congress enabled DeLay. They all fed from his trough. They even tried to change House rules to allow him to continue serving as House leader while under indictment. And DeLay's cowardly resignation is further proof of just how corrupt and corrosive he really was."

"Democrats shouldn't stop reminding anyone who will listen about that."

DeLay: morning shows:

ABC's "Good Morning America" led with the DeLay announcement and had Charlie Gibson wondering aloud, "Is this a graceful exit or a further fall from grace," for DeLay?

ABC's Claire Shipman said, "It's the final humiliation for the former House majority leader."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos looked at the reasons for the announcement, Noting that the Abramoff indictments were closing in on DeLay and that he feared he would lose his seat in a close race.

Stephanopoulos called DeLay, "the single most influential Member of Congress for the last decade."

"Over and Out," declared NBC's Matt Lauer in the top headlines of "Today" when referring to Tom DeLay.

Katie Couric interviewed Chris Matthews about the phone call he received from DeLay last night. Matthews highlighted the President's low poll numbers as cause for trouble for many Republican candidates and explained that if Tom DeLay believes that his one seat of 435 could potentially make the difference in swinging control from the Republicans to the Democrats, it shows just how close the midterm election may be.

Matthews then got all "Almanac of American Politics" on Couric, explaining that DeLay sacrificed his district in his redistricting scheme making it only 55 percent Republican, to which Couric said, "Whoa, that's a lot of information early in the morning." (It's unclear if Matthews' analysis would have been too much information for, say, the evening. LINK and LINK)

CBS's "Early Show" tied DeLay's decision to resign his House seat to the Abramoff scandal, saying that he is "its biggest victim so far," and had Sheryl Atkinson characterizing DeLay as "a very realistic" and "pragmatic" person, who was "running against a Democrat with 50-50 [odds] at best."

DeLay: Democratic reaction:

"Tom DeLay's decision to leave Congress is just the latest piece of evidence that the Republican Party is a party in disarray, a party out of ideas and out of energy," said DCCC communications director Bill Burton in a statement issued early this morning.

A House Democratic leadership aide hammers the party message to The Note saying, "This is a year of change. One man's retirement will not change the direction of the Republican rubber stamp congress."

DNC Communications Director Karen Finney offers this response, "Tom DeLay's announcement is just the beginning of the reckoning of the Republican culture of corruption that has gripped Washington for too long. From DeLay, to Scooter Libby, to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to Duke Cunningham, to Bob Ney, to David Safavian--the list goes on and on."

Politics of immigration:

Washington Times' Jerry Seper Notes that immigration rights organizers will announce today a nationwide boycott of work, school, and shopping on May 1 as an act of protest against legislation tightening enforcement of illegal aliens. LINK

The New York Times' Rachel Swarns takes a look at the personal side of immigration for some senators. LINK

Bush and baseball:

President Bush's opening day pitch "came in high and inside," reports the New York Times. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Wilkinson has some color from President Bush's visit to the Great American Ballpark yesterday. LINK

"Bush watched the first five innings of the game in the owners' box behind home plate with (Bob) Castellini, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and two Republican senators, Ohio's Mike DeWine and Kentucky's Jim Bunning of Southgate."

Democrats' agenda:

Michael McAuliff of the New York Daily News writes up the Democratic Party's continued push to convince the American people that it is the party of national security and gives play to Sen. Schumer's DSCC poll and press conference to that effect. LINK

Roll Call's Nicole Duran takes a look at yesterday's DSCC briefing, where Democrat leaders asserted their edge on national security and has Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) saying that "this year the October surprise is going to be on the Republicans when they wake up and find that Democrats have the advantage on the issue."

And the NRSC response: "We'd welcome any Democrat surrogates to campaign in key states -- they could brag about killing the [USA] PATRIOT Act, criticize the terrorist surveillance program, or promote their cut and run policy in Iraq."

2006: New Orleans mayoral election:

The New York Times looks at how race is proving to be the dominant theme of the April 22 mayoral election in New Orleans. LINK

Michelle Krupa and Frank Donze of the New Orleans Times Picayune take a closer look at the "fast-paced but congenial" televised debate yesterday, Noting that "the leading candidates to be New Orleans' next mayor stuck to their scripts," and that, "for the first time in a televised debate, the top-tier candidates tackled the hot-button issue of evacuation planning." LINK


Patrick Healy of the New York Times reports, "John Spencer, the former Yonkers mayor running against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is planning a 30-state fund-raising drive to try to rally the national Republican Party to defeat her re-election bid this year, and has already secured support from some prominent conservatives." LINK

Republican operatives, who jumped ship from Katherine Harris' floundering bid for Florida's Senate seat, are finding refuge in K.T. McFarland's campaign, the New York Daily News reports. LINK

The Hill's Jonathan Allen observes that longtime friendship between Former Navy Secretary James Webb (D-VA) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) could help Webb get a leg up on Sen. George Allen (R-VA) in 2006, despite the fact that Sen. McCain has stated his support for Sen. Allen. LINK

2006: MoveOn:

MoveOn's $1.3 million ad campaign criticizing four second-tier GOP House members for voting in support of "energy and big oil companies" was rejected Monday by NBC stations in Columbus, OH and Hartford, CT, reports the AP's indefatigable Will Lester. LINK

"The ads paid for by contend that the four GOP lawmakers -- Reps. Chris Chocola in Indiana's 2nd district, Thelma Drake in Virginia's 2nd district, Nancy Johnson in Connecticut's 5th district and Deborah Pryce in Ohio's 15th district -- are taking money from oil and energy companies and then supporting laws that reward those companies."

MoveOn responded to the decisions of two NBC stations by issuing a statement, saying: "Today we launched our campaign to let voters know that their representatives have consistently sided with corporate interests over the interests of their constituents. We expected Republicans to respond, but we didn't expect two local NBC stations owned by GE to refuse to run our ad. Isn't it ironic that Swift Boat Veterans can lie on TV but we can't tell the truth?"

Rep. Johnson responded to the MoveOn ad by announcing plans to launch an ad (of unspecified size) of her own. Johnson's ad calls MoveOn a "radical group" and claims: "The truth is Nancy Johnson fought to lower gas prices and voted to penalize oil companies for price gouging"

MoveOn responded to Johnson's move by saying that it will increase the size of its buy in Johnson's district from $85,000 to $100,000.

Chocola spokesperson Marcus Barlow responded to the ad by saying that it's "telling" that two stations have declined to show the ads. " is a radical group with a radical agenda," Barlow told ABC News. Barlow said that Rep. Chocola voted to investigate price gouging after Hurricane Katrina and that he has voted to hold oil companies accountable.

Drake spokesperson Tyler Brown responded to the ad by saying: "First of all, it's illegal to take money from a company." Brown added that Drake had received $30,000 from energy-related PACs, but only $7,500 from two oil-related PACs. Brown said there was no quid pro quo. He said Drake had voted for a bill that contained provisions to prevent price gouging. As for the inference that Drake is connected to Jack Abramoff, Brown said that Rep. Drake, who was elected in 2004, has never met or spoken with Abramoff.

Pryce campaign manager Jeff LaRue referred to MoveOn as "Satan" and said the allegations in the ad are "absolute lies." LaRue said the ads were misleading in "two ways in particular: they are attempting to say that the congresswoman didn't support measures to prevent price gouging when, in fact, the opposite is true. And secondly, they attempt to link her to criminal activity which there has never been a hint of in her background."


In an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday, William F. Buckley Jr. deemed Hillary Clinton as someone who "might easily be president" while claiming that John McCain doesn't quite have the "fruitful thinking, let alone consistent thinking" that's required of a president, write Bloomberg News' Heidi Przybyla and Judy Woodruff.

2008: Republicans:

The Boston Globe reports on the specifics of the Massachusetts healthcare bill and what it could mean for the governor: "Romney said he considered that an assessment or a fee, not a tax. The distinction is important to Romney, who many expect to tout the healthcare plan on the stump as he moves toward a possible presidential run, because he would suffer politically if Republican antitax advocates determine that he supported a tax increase." LINK

Sen. Bill Frist's (R-TN) staff is busy trying to convince the Chattering Classes that their boss is indeed a serious 2008 contender, writes the Hill's Alexander Bolton. LINK

John Moritz of the Star Telegram writes up Sen. McCain's visit to Texas and Notes that McCain "downplayed any notion that his visit was tied to an upcoming campaign. And he gave no hint as to whether recent speculation that Perry might make a promising running mate has any merit." LINK

2008: Democrats:

"Without declaring his hopes for the national arena outright, Warner emphasized his electability last night, pointing to his record of success in a state that has a two-to-one ratio of Republicans to Democrats," Notes Natalie Sherman of the Crimson, characterizing Gov. Mark Warner's Harvard address as "what could have been a trial stump speech." LINK

The Note's freelancer on the scene writes, "Gov. Warner hit the stage before a packed-to-the-rafters Kennedy School of Government forum event Wednesday eve (that turned out to also seat a healthy number of Lyndon LaRouche supporters). Sporting a snazzy orange tie, the governor offered the attentive crowd a speech that touched on education, competitiveness, and several hearty mentions of rural communities. One Notable applause line came when the governor gave an impassioned mention of the need for a Democratic candidate who can compete in more than 16 states."

"When the time came for Q & A, the governor seemed less sure of his answers, though he did definitively say he was "not a supporter" of the single-payer health care system, thinks the logic behind "No Child Left Behind" legislation makes sense, and believes Sen. Clinton "would be a great candidate if she chooses to run" for president.

"The award for most Notable missed opportunity of the night in the category of Democratic red meat came when Warner was asked to outline the Democratic Party's vision and the reasons why he is a Democrat. Warner quickly said he was "not sure Democrats are ever going to get to those three or four magic phrases" that sum up their party and their candidate. He then went on for several minutes to issue a stream of an answer that mentioned Karl Rove, Democratic support for public schools, and the party's belief in opportunity for all.

Martin Kady II reports for CQ Weekly's cover story that Sen. Clinton's votes over the past year "show that she has moved somewhat to the left as President Bush's popularity has waned. She opposed Bush 69 percent of the time last year on votes on which the White House took a clear position, compared with an average 41 percent during the previous four years."

A CQ insert includes thumbnail profiles and photos of six "Hill insiders" who work in Clinton's Senate office, including Tamero Luzzatoo (chief of staff), Andrew J. Shapiro (senior defense and foreign policy adviser), Miguel Rodriguez (senior counsel and top adviser on homeland security and immigration), Laurie Rubiner (a top adviser on health care issues with a decade of experience working for Republicans), Kris Balderston (deputy chief of staff who plays a key role in the Senator's activities involving upstate New York), and Lona Valmoro (senior adviser and scheduler).

Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register writes up Gov. Vilsack's address at the Building and Construction Trades Union yesterday. LINK


"The Capitol Police said Monday that they were seeking a warrant to arrest Representative Cynthia A. McKinney for an altercation with a police officer last week," reports the New York Times' Kirkpatrick. LINK

USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports that Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) feels there is a "certain amount of independence and freedom" since stepping down from his Senate Majority Leader post. According to congressional scholar Norman Ornstein, Lott "remains deeply bitter" and wants to "feel liberated" for the rest of his tenure. LINK

Read more of the Senator's recent splashy comments: LINK