DeLay: Long rebuilding process for GOP

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But he said Mr. Obama “could set us back in this country 30 years with judicial appointments,” and said conservatives can work on some key issues such as “the war on terror, completely scrapping the tax code, winning the war against our culture.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr. DeLay:

*Said South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford should be Mr. McCain’s running mate because he’s “somebody the right will be excited about, but won’t upset the independents.”

*Questioned Republicans’ strategy of relying on big-dollar interest groups such as Freedom’s Watch, which has poured millions of dollars into boosting pro-Iraq war politicians, particularly Republicans.

“Freedom’s Watch goes into Mississippi, the special election, I think they spent $1.3 million in ads, and lost. No ground game in that $1.3 million, no door to door, no I.D.-ing the vote. That’s what it is, in a primary is, you go in and you I.D. your vote, and you turn out your vote.”

*Acknowledged some of his critics were right in saying he should have resigned his leadership post outright the day he was indicted, rather than just temporarily stepping aside. He said that set back House Republicans’ efforts to get reorganized, which hurt the efforts of his successor, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio.

*Explained his statement last week that Mr. Obama is a Marxist: “I’m a member of [the Second Baptist Church in Houston] because they reflect my values, my understanding of my faith, and I love listening to Ed Young preach because he is challenging me about the values that I hold dear. … The only thing I can assume in trying to analyze Barack Obama is, he was a member of a church for 20 years that believes in black-liberation theology, which everybody knows is a Marxist-humanist religion, preached, I assume, because it’s the worldview of the church, every Sunday.”

“If his values are the church’s values, then he must support black-liberation theology; therefore, he is a Marxist-humanist.”

*Said his first priority, even over helping rejuvenate the conservative movement, is to help Israel - something that was reinforced after his resignation, when he spent “about five weeks on my knees trying to figure out what was the right thing to do.”

“That’s what the Lord wants me to do,” he said. “I think you could say, and I’m very proud of the fact, that I was the No. 1 supporter of Israel in the House and the Senate.”

He offered criticism and advice for everyone from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Mr. McCain to the current House Republican leadership.

When asked whether he’s been working with Mr. Gingrich, who would seem like a natural ally for Mr. DeLay’s organizational skills, Mr. DeLay said he hasn’t been able to do that yet.

“Newt’s into ‘solutions,’” Mr. DeLay said, making an exasperated facial expression. “‘Let’s do a poll, there’s a solution.’”

Mr. Gingrich has started American Solutions, an organization he says is dedicated to cutting through partisanship and pushing answers that polls say a large majority of voters can agree on, such as English as the nation’s official language, a simpler tax system and more spending on math and science education.

Mr. DeLay said he hopes that changes and at some point they do work together, but for now it’s emblematic of what he sees as a greater problem for conservatives.

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