CBSN

GOP Rallies Behind DeLay

Tom Delay
CBS
As fresh controversy swirled around Rep. Tom DeLay, House Republicans sustained their support for their embattled majority leader.

Venting anger over attacks against DeLay and other targets, some members of the GOP rank and file criticized Democrats in unusually sharp terms. One, Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, was quoted by fellow Republicans at a closed-door meeting as calling the head of the House Democratic campaign committee a snake.

Ney disputed that. "I said he was a sneak," he said, referring to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.

"A snake, a sneak, sounds like Mr. Ney is in a snit," countered Bill Burton, Emanuel's spokesman.

With lawmakers back from a two-week break, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the GOP whip, told reporters, "I don't see any wavering of the support for the leader. I think a lot of members think he's taking arrows for all of us," he added.

At a news conference, other Republicans said Democratic attacks were an attempt to win control of the House in 2006.

Democrats "lack any agenda" for the nation's problems, said Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., Blunt's top deputy.

Although Republicans on the Hill maintain the facade of unwavering support for their congressional leader, CBS News Correspondent Gloria Borger reports whispers in the halls of Congress make evident the support is not universal, and might not run deep.

Republicans are concerned about the potential damage to DeLay from the disclosures so far and fear that more may be forthcoming.

DeLay was hit by two new stories Wednesday. The Washington Post reported that he traveled to Russia in 1997 on a trip paid for by business interests. And The New York Times reported that his wife and daughter had been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by his political action and campaign committees.

DeLay defended the payments as something that other lawmakers have done and said he took the trip believing it had been paid for by a nonprofit organization.

"What's going on here is a concerted effort to twist and, to twist the truth to make it look seedy and it's just not true," he told CNN.

Republicans picked up on that theme, charging that Democrats had decided to make DeLay their all-purpose target for attacks designed to end 12 years of Republican rule in the House.

"Nancy has two years to get the majority, she knows this is her only shot," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., speaking of Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.