Q&A: Tom DeLay Explains His Decision

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TIME: Mr. DeLay, this decision seems like something you're comfortable with.

DeLay: I'm very much at peace with it. It's part of—I have learned how to make major decisions. I think the real major decision I had to make like this was whether to run for Speaker or not, when Newt [Gingrich] stepped aside. '98, wasn't it? It was quite obvious that's not what I was supposed to be doing, and I felt very good about it. There's many reasons why I shouldn't have been Speaker. Not to sound arrogant, but I could have walked in, and I could have been Speaker. But at the time, we had foster kids. Christine would have to move, and we'd have to give up our foster kids. And I was not going to be Speaker unless Christine was living in Washington with me. You can't commute and be Speaker. It's just, it's too hard. And for many other reasons—being nuclear, and so forth. I'd just been the main guy who [chuckles] impeached Bill Clinton and all that other stuff.

Christine DeLay: It was the right decision.

DeLay: It was exactly the right decision. And the same thing here. Took a little longer here. I felt there right at the beginning that I was supposed to go through this. But that wasn't what was going on. And what was going on was I had to be realistic and realistically look at it and then come to a decision. That I feel very good about.

TIME: You said you prayed about it?

DeLay: Oh, yeah. Ohhhh, yeah. (Chuckles) I spent a LOT of time praying about. When you have to make these kinds of decisions, you have to feel at peace with them. And if you have doubts, then it's not the right decision. And so you talk to a lot of people, give a lot of people opportunities to give you messages. And listen—you have to be very sensitive to listen for those messages. And then evaluate them and wait patiently for things to unfold. And in the end, feel good about it. Door's open. If it's the wrong decision, doors don't open—they're closed to you, and you don't feel good about it, and you have doubts. Doors are opening already. People are already talking about things I can do. People that I have talked to have come back to me and said: Look, I'm involved in x, y and z. Maybe you can help me do that kind of stuff politically. So doors are opening and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the right decision. And feel very much at peace.

TIME:You mentioned foster care and public speaking. What are some of the other projects that you imagine?

DeLay: Abortion on demand is still in this country, and I want to end abortion as we know it.

TIME: What would be the mechanism for doing that?

DeLay: I don't know. All I know is that's what my world view is. I want to get rid of this tax code and replace it with a fair tax—national sales tax. That would be a revolution in this country. We will return to an economic leader. It would cause people to move back to the United States in order to do business. We can double the economy in 10 years, if we just get rid of our tax code. The American family's under attack, the culture war is going on. I've been fighting that and I will continue to fight that, whether it be trying to defend marriage. As Majority Leader, I was the guy who started the whole effort to thwart judicial activism, to hold the judiciary accountable. We passed six bills limiting the jurisdiction of the courts. We passed, twice, the breakup of the 9th Circuit [for federal appeals]. We've worked to change the brainwashing of law schools back to the Constitution, and convince people once again that there are three branches of government. There's not an ivory tower, all wisdom does not reside in nine people with black robes, and Congress has a responsibility given to it by the Constitution to hold the executive branch and the judicial branch accountable. There's a lot of that work that needs to be done.

TIME: Will you keep this house?

DeLay: Yes. We haven't talked through any of that. Obviously, I'm not going to sell it tomorrow.

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