Tom DeLay Hammers Meredith Vieira

On this morning to promote his new book former House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay didn't receive the kid glove treatment NBC's Meredith Vieira usually reserves for Hillary Clinton, as Vieira repeatedly questioned DeLay on his ethics but when the Today co-host hit DeLay over Iraq, The Hammer, hit back.

As Vieira deigned to interpret opinion polls on Iraq she piously proclaimed: "Well I think they are saying though, sir, not to beat a dead horse here, but I think they are saying they want American troops out by the fall of 2008." To which DeLay hammered back: "I didn't know you spoke for the American people."

Of course Vieira didn't just go after DeLay on Iraq but also hit him with charges of corruption as she charged: "In your book you say that one of the reasons Republicans lost control of the Congress was because of a general perception of Republican incompetence and lack of principles. But many critics say that you were part of that problem."

The following are all of Vieira's questions to Tom DeLay during the first half hour of the March 20th Today show:

Meredith Vieira: "Tom DeLay knows all about the bare-knuckle brawls in the Beltway, the former House Majority Leader was known as 'The Hammer,' when he served in Congress and now he's written a book called, No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight. Mr. Delay, good morning to you."

[Tom DeLay]

[On screen headline: "DeLay's American Fight, Has The GOP Lost Its Way?"]

Vieira: "When we were listening to Norah's report just then you turned to me and said, 'Only the beginning.' What did you mean by that?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "What would you advise Mr. Gonzales to do if you still had a position in Congress?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Fight?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "You say to fight but, and you, the name of your book is No Retreat, No Surrender but didn't you give up your battle?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Well but in essence you did, you stepped aside."

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Let me talk about that a little bit because it's not just Republicans in the White House that are in trouble, it's the Republican Party in general and in your book you say that one of the reasons Republicans lost control of the Congress was because of a general perception of Republican incompetence and lack of principles. But many critics say that you were part of that problem. That you were cited by the House Ethics committee numerous times, indicted on campaign finance, finance related charges and that two of your top aides pled guilty in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. So what responsibility do you think you bare?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Where do you disagree?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "So you don't feel you bare any responsibility for this perception of Republicans being corrupt?"

DeLay: "I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't done anything wrong. This is, this was a strategy, a concerted strategy by the Democrats announced 12 years ago by the campaign committee and Pat Kennedy. That they were gonna demonize Tom DeLay. It was on their Web site. And so-"

Vieira: "It worked."

DeLay: "It worked. Unfortunately."

Vieira: "I want to switch gears for a minute and, and talk about your appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday where you were part of a panel discussing the war in Iraq and you had harsh words for those who support a date for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Let's take a look at this."

[Tom DeLay from Meet the Press: "When you tell the enemy what your strategy is that's aiding and abetting the enemy because they could use that strategy to come back and harm your soldiers."]

Vieira: "In a poll taken last week, sir, 59 percent of Americans say they agree that troops should be removed by the fall of 2008. So does that mean that more than half of Americans are unpatriotic? That they're, they're abetting the enemy?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "How is that different? The American people, 59 percent are saying they want the troops out by the fall of 2008."

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Because they think that it's not working."

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Well I think they are saying though, sir, not to beat a dead horse here, but I think they are saying they want American troops out by the fall of 2008."

DeLay: "Well I don't, I didn't know you spoke for the American people."

Vieira: "No I'm not. I'm speaking for the poll, actually. I'm just relating the poll to you, 59 percent say that. I just want to make sure that I understand you when you say that those people are not unpatriotic for taking that position."

[DeLay]

Vieira: "You said that President Bush, last question, is a, is a compassionate man but not really a conservative. Who do you think is going to be the rising voice of the Republican Party come 2008 in the elections? Of the candidates you see."

[DeLay]

Vieira: "But among the candidates that are out there now. Is there one that, that, in your mind, seems to be the best one to replace the President?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "You don't have a favorite?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "You miss the Hill?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Had enough?"

[DeLay]

Vieira: "Tom DeLay, thank you very much for joining us this morning. The book is called No Retreat, No Surrender."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.