Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay lambasted Republicans for their lack of leadership during an event Friday at Kay Spiritual Life Center that helped kick off Family Weekend at American University.
"Leadership is all about having no fear and knowing what you believe in," he said. "There is no leadership or agenda in the conservative movement.
"However, there is still great opportunity for the Republican Party because the basic political instinct of the American people is conservative. Americans will act upon their instincts once Republicans establish real leadership."
DeLay, who was often referred to as "The Hammer" during his time in Congress, entered politics in 1979 as a member of the Texas House of Representatives and subsequently served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican members of the House elected him majority whip in 1995 and later elected him as majority leader in 2003. DeLay's political career ended in scandal, after being indicted and forced to step down in 2005 for conspiracy and money-laundering charges in a political finance probe, according to an MSNBC report.
DeLay praised the Democrats for putting together what he called one of the most impressive coalitions in six years, citing Washington think tanks such as the Center for American Progress and big donors as the force behind the movement.
The Republicans' confused direction and lack of solidarity will hurt them in the 2008 presidential elections, said Thomas Hamed, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs.
"The Republicans lack leadership today," he said. "That's why they're going to lose the 2008 elections.
"I think DeLay's assessment was correct."
DeLay refused to back any of the candidates running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2008, claiming none of the frontrunners speak for the conservative movement.
"The media is telling us that Giuliani is our choice, but how can he be our choice when he only has 30 percent of the vote?" DeLay said. "Unless a real Republican leader steps up, Hillary [Clinton] will be our next president."
DeLay praised Clinton's campaign for being well-disciplined, organized and "hardly ever making mistakes."
During the question-and-answer period of the event, Student Government President Joe Vidulich, who identified himself as a Republican, said he disapproved of DeLay's actions as House majority leader. Vidulich cited accusations of aggression toward justices on the Supreme Court during the Terri Schiavo controversy and DeLay's manipulation of congressional districts in Texas.
"The leadership he [DeLay] speaks about is morally bankrupt," Vidulich said. "I'm glad I had a chance to question him, but I am happier that AU has developed better men and women than that man."
DeLay responded to Vidulich's comments by denying he ever threatened justices with violence and said gerrymandering was part of the political process, while taking out a handheld copy of the Constitution and telling Vidulich to read it.
DeLay concluded the event by boasting about the United States' prominent standing among the international community.
"Most people are envious of America; they want to be like us," he said. "Even China is starting to believe in capitalism to make a better life for those people."
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© 2007 The Eagle via U-WIRE