Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh: 'Too Much Brain-Dead Partisanship' in Congress

Indiana senator denies plans for 2012 run, does not comment on 2016 ambitions.

ByABC News via logo
February 16, 2010, 7:00 AM

Feb. 16, 2010— -- Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, whose retirement announcement Monday stunned the political world, today assailed partisanship in Congress and said he could achieve much more in the private sector than as a senator.

"There's just too much brain-dead partisanship, tactical maneuvering for short-term political advantage rather than focusing on the greater good, and also just strident ideology," the Democratic senator said on "Good Morning America" today.

"The extremes of both parties have to be willing to accept compromises from time to time to make some progress because some progress for the American people is better than nothing, and all too often recently, we've been getting nothing," he said.

Bayh, 54, said compromise is badly needed in Congress, and that the American people need to jump in and vote out those lawmakers who are focused solely on politics and partisanship.

"The people who are just rigidly ideological, unwilling to accept practical solutions somewhere in the middle, vote them out, and then change the rules so that the sensible people who remain can actually get the job done," Bayh said. "The president I know is desperately trying to accomplish this. Congress needs to listen and the American people need to help with this process."

The reason behind his decision not to seek a third Senate term, Bayh said, is he beleived he "could get more done" in the private sector, "real accomplishments in a real way, perhaps in a smaller stage but something meaningful."

The former two-term Indiana governor ruled out any notion of running for president in 2012, saying he supports President Obama and is confident he will get re-elected.

There is "no truth whatsoever" in that speculation, Bayh said, when asked about a Huffington Post story today that said he might be eyeing the White House. Bayh, however, would not comment on a possible 2016 run, saying that it is further down the road than he can see.

Bayh added that a third party is unlikely to emerge, as some have speculated, and that Congress can make progress in a two-party system but that it needed major reform. For his part, he still insisted he could achieve more in the private sector.

"I am looking forward to helping as a private citizen, my country and my state," Bayh said. "The politics, that'll ultimately take care of itself."

Bayh is not the only one disenchanted with Congress. Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, who is one of 10 other senators who have announced their retirement this year, told ABC News that while he believes bipartisanship is still alive in the Senate, he and several other colleagues share Bayh's frustration.

"You've got all these people shouting on the left and shouting on the right," Gregg said.

"I think there's a lot of factors that go into the decision not to run for re-election," he said. "We just thought it was time to try something else. But there is also the issue whether of if you stayed are you really going to get as much done as you want to do, and the answer is probably no. I mean if we are going to be honest about it, we are just not making the type of progress down the road on the big issues."