DeLay Heads To Friendly Territory

Caption U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, speaks at the National Rifle Association 134th annual member banquet, Saturday, April 16, 2005, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Under fire for possible ethics violations, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay went home to Texas over the weekend for some much-needed support.

DeLay found plenty of support in the audience at the National Rifle Association's annual convention, reports CBS News Correspondent Joie Chen.

The Republican from nearby Sugar Land, Texas only briefly mentioned the ethics accusations, telling members of the gun-rights group that he appreciated their support. He accused liberal Democrats and the national media of giving him a hard time.

"When a man is in trouble or in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed. So I feel really good," said Delay during the convention's keynote address Saturday night.

About 2,550 NRA members paid $75 to hear DeLay's speech and dine on salad with goat cheese and sirloin steak with peppercorn cognac sauce. Many wore stickers that read: "I'm for the NRA and Tom DeLay."

Some of DeLay's Republican colleagues have suggested in recent weeks that he resign as scrutiny builds over his overseas trips, political fund raising and his association with a lobbyist who is under federal investigation.

A district attorney in Texas is investigating a political fund raising committee DeLay helped launch to assist Republican candidates in the state's 2002 legislative elections.

Three DeLay associates and eight corporations have been indicted in the investigation, although three companies have reached agreements with the prosecutor.

DeLay has not been charged with any wrongdoing in any of the cases and has denied any legal or ethics violations.

However, more than 100 protesters gathered outside, including some who claimed to be conservative Republicans, to call for his ouster, reports Chen.

"He is an embarrassment to our district," said protester Patricia Baig, a 57-year-old retired school teacher from Missouri City, Texas. "He doesn't represent his district and it is time for him to do the honorable thing and resign."

As the debate over the allegations heats up, supporters repeat his denials of wrongdoing and his claim that Democrats have whipped up a partisan plot against him.