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On Fox - North Carolina Congressman Insults the State of New Jersey When the Discussion Was About Delay's Indictment

Reported by Donna - September 28, 2005

Today on Studio B with Rick Folbaum substituting for Shepard Smith, we had a battle of the 'spewing talking points' Congressman from North Carolina, Patrick McHenry (R) against the 'straight shooting' Congressman from New Jersey, Bill Pascrell (D).

It was surprising to hear Rick Folbaum ask some hard questions, as he is usually timid and reserved and doesn't usually go the route of asking hard questions.

Democrats should pay attention to Congressman Bill Pascrell for how to interview on Fox. Though he didn't have as much time to speak as Congressman Patrick McHenry, he spoke from the heart, didn't spout talking points and got mad when he deserved to get mad.

My transcript follows (paraphrased but pretty much verbatim). It is long, but it has some goodies. Thanks for reading.

Rick Folbaum: Congressman McHenry, what does this mean for the Republicans and in your ambitious agenda with Tom Delay and the problems he's having, with Bill Frist and the problems that he may be having? Are you guys going to be able to get anything done?

McHenry: See, this is not really about Tom Delay. What it's about is a partisan prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, down in Texas. We're not going to be...uh...change from our agenda. We're still going to focus on entitlement reform, uh, retirement security reform as well as taking in this immigration challenge we have in this nation.

Rick Folbaum: I have to cut in. I have to cut in for a moment, Congressman, because it is about Tom Delay and a grand jury has indicted him today. So, like it or not and we can talk for a long time about the prosecutor down there in Texas, but like it or not, your leader in the House has been indicted. So, it is about him today.

McHenry: Well, unfortunately this challenge from Ronnie Earle is just more of a long succession of attacks that he's been pushing on Republicans. Today, though, Tom Delay stepped down as majority leader because of the rules that Republicans in Congress have that dictate who our Republican leaders can be. And, we have a rule that Democrats don't have that says our Republican leader or a Committee Chairman that is indicted must step down. The Democrats and their Democrat Conference don't have those rules.

Rick Folbaum: Well, let's talk to a Democrat. Let me talk to Congressman Pascrell, your colleague from across the aisle. Congressman, it's good to see you, is this about politics as your colleague suggested or is this about corruption?

Pascrell: First of all, I am not going to read from any script or be in any manner, shape or form have what I say precipitated by any script. (Comment: Way to go Congressman Pascrell, you put Mr. Talking Points in his place) I think what Patrick just said is a lot of hogwash. And, I am here to stand before you that the institution of the Congress, which I came here to protect, is more important.

This is a sad day. This is a sad day. Neither party is privy to virtue, we know that. But, for you or for anybody to say, Patrick, that this prosecutor is simply doing his own wares, we don't know that and if that is true, it will come out and he'll be in trouble. So we have a situation of indictment. Tom Delay was admonished two times by the Ethics Committee last year, chose not to go in this particular issue. The issue before us is a felony. We pray for his family, we pray for him.

We hope that the institution will survive. We hope that there is no wrongdoing. We can't say whether there is or not unless you know something more than I do.

Rick Folbaum: Congressman McHenry, go ahead.

McHenry: Well, Rick, the reality is that this partisan prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, spoke at a Democrat fundraiser where he raised $100,000 to help elect Democrats to the State House and the State Senate in Texas. Those are facts. Beyond that, what we have to say tis hat he has impaneled six grand juries. This is the sixth grand jury and today is the last day of the grand jury. And it took six grand juries and the final day of this last one to come up with a charge that is called conspiracy.

And any prosecutor, just like Judge Napolitano said a few minutes ago, look, conspiracy is the last charge a prosecutor will come up with because it is the hokiest of them all. And, he's throwing it out there to get a political hit in. The reality is this, though, Rick, we, the Republicans in the House have a rule for our conference that says that anyone that's indicted must step down from their position. The Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats don't have that rule.

Folbaum: Alright.

Pascrell: You're going to continue that......

Folbaum: Well, that is a rule that the Republicans were considering changing until for political reasons they backed off of that. But, let me go to Congressman Pascrell for a moment and ask about this district attorney down in Travis County. He is a well known Democrat. He has made the kinds of speeches that Congressman McHenry has said that he has about wanting to indict Congressman Delay. Is there not a problem there with appearance, the fact that the prosecutor has said the kinds of things about Congressman Delay on the record?

Pascrell: Prosecutors do this all the time. Judges have to make these decisions all of the time. My good friend, Judge Napolitano put it all on the table. This is an indictment. This doesn't mean the persons guilty and according to the system the courts will look into this to see whether the individual is guilty or not.

And that's all it is at this particular time. For Patrick to bring up the question, about what the Republicans have and what the Democrats don't have, they changed the rules. They tried to change these rules over the last year and a half. It is a joke what you're saying. That dog doesn't hunt anymore, Patrick. So let's talk about this particular issue. The jury is out, we do not have a final decision. This is just an indictment, we'll use your words. But don't try to switch it and say that the Democrats are not, in other words, we're not as ethical as the Republicans. That dog doesn't hunt anymore.

McHenry: (trying to overtalk) A New Jersey Congressman.......

Pascrell: You better understand, if you want this to be a partisan issue, pal, you're in the wrong seat.

Folbaum: Go ahead, Congressman McHenry.

McHenry: (Smirking and laughing) And Rick, you know, I appreciate a New Jersey Congressman arguing that. The nation.........

Pascrell: You can indict the whole of New Jersey and I'll talk to you about that personally. But the fact of the matter is this has nothing to do with New Jersey and you know that Patrick. And I would wish that you would apologize to the people of the state of New Jersey instead of trying to shed light on something that we're not even talking about. Come to New Jersey.

Folbaum: Congressman McHenry, let me give you the last word here. (Comment: Why? He had the first word) Are the Republicans rattled? We've heard a lot of your colleagues, we've had them on our air the past couple of hours. We've heard the 'indicting a ham sandwich' line. We've heard you talk aout the rules that the Republicans have in place that the Democrats don't. Tell me about....sort of what's going on behind scenes where the discussions between you and your Republican colleagues as you respond to this news today.

McHenry: At this very moment, at 3 p.m. today, the Speaker of the House convened the Republican Conference. We gathered together and the Speaker asked us and at this very moment it is happening. He's asked us to allow Roy Blunt, the majority whip, to act as acting majority leader for Tom Delay. So, we have a rapid succession in order to move our agenda forward, David Drier's going to be a part of that leadership group that is going to continue to lead the House Republicans and move our agenda forward as is Speaker Hastert and Roy Blunt. So, I'm very excited about the ambitious agenda we have set for the next eight weeks.

Folbaum: Alright. Alright, you mentioned Congressman Drier from California. We're now getting some guidance that perhaps that's not a done deal on him sliding into Congressman Delay's position. We'll, of course, continue to do our reporting and have more on that as we get it.

In the meantime, Congressman McHenry of North Carolina, Congressman Pascrell from New Jersey, my home state, thank you both very much.

Comment: Did you catch all of the Republican talking points spewing from Congressman McHenry? Congressman Pascrell tried to have a civil conversation about the facts and McHenry kept up with the talking points. To insinuate to another Congressman on national television that wink-wink, nod-nod, New Jersey can't have an ethical congressman was out and out wrong. I wonder if he'll meet personally, in New Jersey, with Congressman Pascrell to discuss this and will he offer up an apology to the people of New Jersey?

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