- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2001

A leading Republican yesterday criticized his party for the defection of Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, saying Republicans have become "arrogant" and less tolerant of opposing views since taking over Congress and the White House.
"You become arrogant [when you assume political power], and you get sloppy … if you are not a party representing many interests, you cant govern," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, on CBS "Face the Nation" in calling for President Bush and the Republican Party to do more to accommodate its liberal members.
"Maybe we arent listening enough," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, said on CNNs "Late Edition."
Republicans will lose control of the Senate June 5, as a result of Mr. Jeffords decision to bolt his party and become an independent. He has said that he will caucus with the Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who will become majority leader at that time, made it clear in television interviews yesterday hes eager to win more converts.
"Weve made it clear that Republicans and independents are welcome in our caucus," Mr. Daschle said on NBCs "Meet the Press."
He said hes made that position known to Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, in recent conversations with them.
"Ill make that clear to a number of others over the course of the next several months. We think there is a home here for other senators as well," said Mr. Daschle.
The Democratic leader gave no indication he expects either Mr. McCain or Mr. Chafee to switch parties, even though both have complained about so-called Republican "moderates" feeling neglected by the Republican congressional leadership and the Bush White House.
"Look, all Ive said is … if you are interested, wed be more than happy to talk with you… . Theres always been an open invitation, and weve reiterated that invitation many times," Mr. Daschle said on NBC.
On CBS, Mr. Hagel, a good friend of Mr. McCains, was asked about rumors the Arizona Republican has talked with Democrats about possibly becoming an independent. "I suspect there have been conversations. But John McCain is a man who is driven by deep principles and beliefs, and I would be quite surprised to see John McCain ever change parties or even move to an independent status, unless there is some cause that propels him to do that," Mr. Hagel said.
"This is his party, the Republican Party. Hes not going to be driven out of his party… . Hell stay and fight to make it a better, more inclusive, more responsible party," he said.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, who also appeared on "Face the Nation," was asked about speculation that two Democratic senators, Zell Miller of Georgia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, might become Republicans.
Mr. Lieberman said he does not see that happening. "These are both Democrats committed to their party," he said.
He acknowledged both are "independent" Democrats, who do not always support party positions. "But nobody ever threatened punishment… . We always kept saying youre part of the family," said Mr. Lieberman, who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for vice president in last years election.
In the wake of Mr. Jeffords defection, Republicans have taken steps to improve communication with those in their party who are to the left of the leadership. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a political maverick and liberal Republican, said yesterday hes been given a "seat at the leadership table representing the point of view of the moderates."
"This is a first step. More has to be done," Mr. Specter said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday." He estimates that "moderate Republicans" account for about half of the party membership nationwide.
On CBS, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card again took responsibility for the decision by Mr. Jeffords that cost Republicans control of the Senate. He said he should have done a better job of communicating with people on Capitol Hill.
However, Mr. Hagel countered that everyone in the Republican Party shares the blame.
"This is not a catastrophe for us. But we should learn from this. The president must learn. He must engage more personally. That means hes going to have to understand issues better, more deeply, get himself immersed in this," Mr. Hagel said.
"This is going to require leadership from him," he added.
On Fox, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican, said hes working "very, very hard" to make things more comfortable for liberal Republicans such as Mr. Chafee. "Were trying to do a better job of listening," Mr. Nickles said.
He said Republican leaders tried hard to persuade Mr. Jeffords from becoming an independent, once they learned he was threatening to leave the party.
On Fox, Mr. Nickles said Vice President Richard B. Cheney thought a deal was made to keep Mr. Jeffords a member of the Republican Party. The deal, which the Vermont senator ultimately rejected as being inadequate, would have made the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act an entitlement.


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