Can Tom DeLay Dance Back into Political Limelight?

By Caitlin Taylor

Aug 17, 2009 1:56pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Beyond the fun imagery that Tom DeLay’s selection for “Dancing with the Stars” evokes — will it be “Hammer Time” for “The Hammer”?; will the former exterminator wear sequins? — there’s another element to the former House majority leader’s new foray into popular culture.  DeLay’s appearance on the hit ABC series is virtually guaranteed to elevate him in the public sphere. Sure he’ll be talking about his two-step, but it’s only a matter of time before DeLay, R-Texas, is talking about the political dance he was once the master of back in Washington. “You’re reaching an audience that otherwise is going to tune out politicians,” said Stuart Roy, a former DeLay spokesman, likening DeLay’s appearance to President Obama’s decision to fill out his NCAA brackets on ESPN. “People will view you in a different way,” Roy said. “What people don’t see — but political people will — is that the promotion of the show goes far beyond putting out a press release.” In true 2009 pop-culture style, DeLay used today’s announcement that he’ll appear on the next season of “Dancing” to send a series of Tweets. “Well, it's official … I am going to compete on Dancing with the Stars! This is going to be so much fun. I will need your support,” DeLay wrote.  Associates are sending word that the 62-year-old former House member may surprise some folks with his moves on the dance floor. “Tommy is so excited and he's been working out to get in shape for the show before rehearsals even start,” DeLay’s wife, Christine, told a former staff member, Emily Miller, for a Politics Daily column. Christine DeLay added: “People are going to see the real man” on the show. DeLay was one of the most influential — and most colorful — players in Washington until he was forced to leave Congress in 2006, under a legal cloud that still hasn’t fully cleared. He’s been a sporadic voice as a strong critic of President Obama in recent months, though he hasn’t been nearly as visible as some former colleagues, such as former House speaker Newt Gingrich, and former majority leader Dick Armey. DeLay’s return to the limelight today is reviving some memories of the controversies that always seemed to follow him. "It would be interesting to see if Mr. DeLay can do the Perp Walk," Andrew Wheat, research director of Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group, told my colleagues at The Blotter.  But DeLay’s focus now will be on reverse turns and box steps, not redistricting schemes and Jack Abramoff. “It’s fun. And it’s a classy reality show. You don’t have to live in a house or worry about getting kicked off the island,” Roy said. Yet friends are realistic about his chances, against such luminaries as supermodel Kathy Ireland, former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, and musician Donny Osmond. “I don’t know that he’ll win it without knee-barring Chuck Liddell,” Roy said, referring to the Ultimate Fighting Championship star. And DeLay himself is showing a sense of humor about his chances: “Didn't realize, I was the oldest #dwts contestant by 11 years. Have to go after that #AARP vote,” he Tweeted this afternoon.

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