Members of Congress give all sorts of reasons for retiring, but the reason that Democrat Evan Bayh gave is starting to sound awfully familiar. The two-term Senator from Indiana said he just couldn't stand the partisan bickering in Washington any more.
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)
"I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress," he said yesterday, announcing he would not seek reelection this Fall.
CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports Bayh becomes the 9th Senator to announce he's retiring at the end of this term: Four other Democrats — Roland Burris, Ill; Christopher Dodd, Conn.; Byron Dorgan, N.D.; and Ted Kaufman, Del. — and four Republicans — Kit Bond, Mo.; Jim Bunning, Ky.; Judd Gregg, N.H.; and George Voinovich, Ohio.
Watch Evan Bayh's Announcement from Monday
GOP Smells Opportunity over Bayh's Exit
Bayh said he was bitter over the bipartisanship he's seen, but said he held no grudge against the Democrats.
"I'm not angry at my party," Bayh said on CBS' "The Early Show" this morning. "I wish Washington would work better.
"What we need to do is to come together as a people and solve the problems facing our country. And unfortunately Washington is just not doing enough of that these days."
Bayh disputed the suggestion that his announcement blindsided the Democratic Party leadership. "I had discussed with Senator Reid as long as a year ago my growing feeling that Congress was just not working as well as it should, that there is much too much partisanship and too much ideology, not enough practical progress. And so with several of my colleagues, including the leadership, I'd shared that opinion, and you know, in the hurlyburly of making these announcements, sometimes phone calls get delayed."
Bayh, who had never lost an election and who comes from a family which has long served in public office, was reportedly ahead in the polls against major names competing for the Republican nomination.
When asked if his late announcement (the deadline for submitting petition signatures to get one's name on the ballot is this week) hurts Democrats and might hand his seat to the Republicans, Bayh responded, "Those critics must not know my state very well.
"Hoosiers are very independent. There are five Republicans running, they're going to have a vigorous primary. I don't know who their nominee will be. And I am highly confident that we will have a candidate for the United States Senate who will be very competitive and have an excellent chance of winning this seat in November."
He also dismissed the suggestion that he might switch parties and run against President Obama in 2012. "No possibility whatsoever," Bayh told "Early Show" anchor Maggie Rodriguez. "As a matter of fact, I talked to the president yesterday and said I was looking forward to working with him over these next 11 months to try to make the progress I know that he so desperately wants.
"And let me say this: I think the president, you can disagree with his policies if you want to, but he is making a sincere effort to try to bring the two sides together, to try and find some common ground, to forge that practical progress that Americans are so yearning for. And I want to help him over the next 11 months to make that kind of progress."
Bayh did admit that he has no future plans. "I would tell you, but I don't know. I'm going to — what we call in Indiana, in basketball — I'm going play until the final second ticks off the clock, and then think about what's next.
"But if I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months. If I could help educate our children at an institution for higher learning, that would be a noble thing. If I could help a charity, cure a disease or do something else worthwhile for society — that's what has motivated my life and that's what I think Congress needs to focus on, things that will help the American people meet the challenges they face in real ways in their daily lives. That's what I want to do with my life. And if you'll invite me back on your show in 11 months, I'll be able to tell you!"
Watch the interview below: