No Retreat, No Surrender
By Jamie Glazov | May 4, 2007

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Tom DeLay, who served as majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2003 to 2006. He was first elected to the House from Texas in 1984, appointed deputy minority whip in 1988, and elected House majority whip in 1995. Since leaving Congress in 2006, he has launched the Grassroots Action and Information Network as well as a popular political blog, He is the co-author (with Stephen Mansfield) of his new memoir, No Retreat, No Surrender. One American’s Fight.

FP: Tom DeLay, welcome to Frontpage Interview. It is an honor to speak with you.

DeLay: Thank you for the opportunity. I was just visiting with David and the Freedom Center family at the Santa Barbara retreat. We even scored a few protesters, it was quite fun.

FP: What inspired you to write No Retreat, No Surrender. One American’s Fight?

DeLay: Well right before I left office, I made a comment in the press that I wasn’t going to write a book. Within what seems like minutes I had received a call from Stephen Mansfield, who was a Baptist preacher and wrote the book The Faith of George W. Bush, insisting that I should write a book, and that he would help me. I liked the idea of being able to share the inside stories of history as I lived it, and Stephen was an amazing partner in this venture.

FP: In the beginning of your book, you paint a very powerful picture of your run-in with communist tyranny as a small child – a run-in that occurred in Castro’s Cuba. Can you give our readers a small glimpse of that event and how it shaped you?

DeLay: My mother and my younger brother and sister were on our last trip out of Venezuela and our plane was stopping over in Havana to refuel before heading to the States. All I remember is being ushered, actually forced, off the plane by soldiers with guns. They kept us in a holding cell for what seemed like hours to a kid like me, all in an effort to show who was in charge. I remember feeling helpless and scared at the time, but knowing it wasn’t right and that we should be protected from ogres like that. They let us go on our way but I left with a feeling that there was serious oppression and loss of liberty on that beautiful island.

FP: You mention how when you came to politics as a conservative, you did so with a “set of ideas”. What were some of them?

DeLay: When I first ran for office I was a small businessman working in pest control. Between the regulations on our products and the payroll taxes, I was noticing that more and more of my profit was going to the federal government. So I had my accountant figure out the cost of government on my business, and lo and behold it was more than half of my gross income. Now that made me angry, so I decided to do something about it. I started in politics just to get the government off my back. Little did I know how much my convictions and ideas would evolve, or that I would become this involved.

FP: Why were you nicknamed “the Hammer”? Are you comfortable with this nickname?

DeLay: That’s not really my nickname - it was actually given to me by the Washington Post. To my knowledge, no one I have served with has ever called me “The Hammer”. At first I was annoyed because it simply wasn’t true. I never had to be overly forceful to win votes because I had developed a process called Grow the Vote that worked perfectly to bring members together on important issues so we’d always have the votes to bring it to the floor. But, truth be told, the name has kind of grown on me.

FP: You were one of the architects of the 1994 Republican revolution. Looking back now, what did revolution mean to this country?

DeLay: The GOP revolution meant more than a temporary takeover by a handful of Republican politicians. We changed the culture of Washington. No one thought we had a chance, but we knew we represented the majority opinion in America, and we still do. And to be honest, I outline in the book the important roll Bill Clinton played in all of this. His disastrous leadership united conservatives; and the next Clinton candidate will hopefully do the same.

FP: What is the real reason do you think why the Left hates you so much?

DeLay: Because I’m effective. They couldn’t fathom that a bug killer from Texas would have support in my district and among Members of Congress, so they convinced themselves that I was up to no good. They couldn’t beat me at the ballot box or on the House floor, so they started filing frivolous ethics charges and hoping the press stories would stick. They spent more time trying to bring me down than trying to build their agenda up.

FP: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal conversion to Jesus Christ and how it changed you?

DeLay: Well I really get into this in the book, but to sum it up, I was a self centered jerk until I got to Congress twenty two years ago and Congressman Frank Wolfe changed my life. I’ve been walking with Christ ever since, and I am a completely different man.

FP: In your book, you note that you learned something about liberals: they are much like communists. You write: “They believe they have to destroy you in order to win.” (p. Can you briefly comment on that? And explain that phenomenon in the context of your long fight to fend of all the allegations that liberals have flung at you in their politics of personal destruction.

DeLay: Absolutely. David knows this better than anybody, but the Left, much like other extremist/collectivist ideologies, has a very difficult time explaining their worldview. So instead of relying on the validity of their ideas to persuade their followers, they use force and intimidation. We’re seeing that in Hollywood to this day. I know quite a few actors who are conservative but if they ever let that secret out, they’d never find a job making movies. Why? Because that’s the only way Leftists can fight – by destroying people who disagree.

FP: What do you make of George Soros's role in American politics?

Delay: I find it very troubling. He has every right to be involved in the political process, but because of McCain-Feingold he has been given the opportunity to have more power over our political speech than others. But we have many wealthy conservatives who can rival him, and we need them involved in the process as much as they need Soros.

FP: You openly discuss in your book how you were forced to resign your post as majority leader in 2005 – after being indicted on state campaign finance charges. You give a strong defense of your innocence. Can you share some of that defense with our readers?

DeLay: Absolutely, and I’d love to share that defense with a judge and jury if they ever let me go to trial. This process of investigating me and shopping around for an indictment has gone on longer than the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein is dead and in the ground, and I still haven’t had my day in court. But in my book I go further into detail about Ronnie Earle’s abuse of the taxpayers money and Texas justice system, and the Democrats criminalization of politics than I ever have before.

FP: You mention in your book your intense personal dislike of Bill Clinton. Can you touch on that here a bit with us?

DeLay: Well where do I start? I think I said it best in the book, but I will sum it up this way – you can never trust a man who cheats at golf. Because he’s cheating himself.

FP: Why do you think Bush and so many conservatives in Congress have abandoned their small-government principles? Is it a necessity of the times? Where do you think you ultimately stood yourself?

DeLay: I don’t think any of us abandoned those principles, we just didn’t hold to them as true as we could have. It’s easy to run for office, as I did, and say you want to abolish the Department of Education and send the responsibility to the states, or to end welfare and entitlement programs. My credo has always been that of Goldwater’s – I don’t want to just pass laws, but repeal them. But thanks to the Democrats, it’s very, very difficult to actually do. The Democrats (and some Republicans) who designed these programs made them quite durable, and we realized the only effective way to go after them is to look at these programs and redesign them to fit a conservative philosophy – that is, making people independent of the government so the need for the program will dissolve. I started a program called reconciliation, which is a fancy D.C. word for going after entitlement programs every year, not just when they’re up for reauthorization. And it saved us $40 billion dollars in the first year alone. And Medicare is another one people are always fussing about, but we basically applied the same principles of welfare reform to Medicare in order to shrink the program in the future. Truth is, if you put it to an up or down vote to abolish these programs, it would never pass. So we ratchet them down the best we can with the votes we have and work on showing the American people that it can be done so we can continue the process. Sounds boring, but it works.

FP: Where do you think we stand in the terror war? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? What is your prescription for victory (in Iraq, Iran etc.)?

DeLay: I am very optimistic. We have won the war in Iraq – there is a democratic government in place and we destroyed their ruthless dictator. What we’re seeing now is a new phase, and to be honest, it could have no end. We are fighting a new enemy, and you can’t exactly sign an armistice agreement with terrorists. The United States is once again rewriting the war manual, and it’s working. We went to war to protect the American people and this land. We haven’t had a single attack on our soil since 9-11, and Iraq is serving as flypaper to the infestation of terrorists in the region. That’s a reason to be optimistic.

FP: You have always been a staunch supporter of Israel. What do you make of the growing chorus of voices, in the U.S. (Jimmy Carter) and European capitals, that Israel agree to negotiate with the Hamas-led government? For instance, if Jimmy Carter were really outraged about apartheid, which he condemns Israel for, you would think he would denounce the multiple and vicious levels of apartheid being practised throughout the Arab Middle East, rather than focusing on it where it doesn’t exist – in the most, and actually only, democratic nation in the Middle East

DeLay: I have written about Jimmy Carter extensively on my blog and have long thought that he is an embarrassing failure as a foreign policy practitioner, activist, and pundit. It scares me that Democrats in leadership side with the Carter approach more often than not, and this moral relativism is dangerous, especially as we fight the Global War on Terror. To paraphrase Churchill, he’s the type who “can’t distinguish between the arsonist and the firefighter”. Carter apparently sees no difference between an Israeli soldier and a suicide bomber, and liberals are going to start applying that same relativism to the U.S. along with Israel, if they haven’t already.

FP: Who is a hero of yours in the 20th Century? Why?

DeLay: I get into this in the book. My heroes have always been political cowboys. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan have made more of an impact on my political views than anyone, other than my wife, who is the real conservative of our family.

FP: Who is one of your favorite authors? Why? What books would you recommend for Frontpage readers to read at the moment?

DeLay: Well to self promote for a moment, No Retreat, No Surrender is a must read for all conservatives who are looking for the history of our Republican majority and an agenda to unite us and bring that majority back in 2008. And Stephen Mansfield, who co-wrote the book with me, is one of my favorite authors because he just gets it. Not only is he a New York Times Bestseller, but he’s a conservative man of faith who is an amazingly talented writer and a joy to work with. As for my favorite book and author – the one that changed my life and I recommend to everyone I know, is How Now Shall We Live by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey.

FP: What are your thoughts on global warming?

DeLay: I think we all have to be stewards of the environment, of course, but I find it pretty fishy that the Left’s politicization of environmental protection and their extremist views on “global warming” seem to cater to all of their special interest groups and political agenda. Besides the absurdity of their claims and the arrogance of thinking we can control the climate, they don’t practice what they preach, so I can’t take their silly theories seriously.

FP: Do you think that radical Islam poses a greater danger to the Free World than fascism and communism did?

DeLay: Well it has many of the same components of communism, which makes it quite dangerous to our way of life. They don’t want to exist beside us – they want to destroy us. And just like communism, the Left simply doesn’t get what a threat this is, which is why we need to stick to our principles as we fight the War on Terror, just as we did with the Cold War.

FP: What do you think of the elections coming up in 2008? Who will run? Who might win? What if Hillary makes it to the White House? Would it be a disaster for this country?

DeLay: I think it’s still too early to pick a nominee and that’s why we have this primary process – to see who has the ability to raise the funds and put together the ground operation to win in ’08. But what frustrates me the most is the national media trying to pick our candidate. Let’s wait for a true leader to emerge.

FP: What are some of your own short-term future plans?

DeLay: Well I’ve been quite busy since leaving office, with many projects in the works. I’ve done a lot of research on our opposition and my main goal is to do what I do best – fill the voids in our political coalition and work with conservatives to do more than just complain and to act on our principles. That’s why I started the organization Coalition for a Conservative Majority ( which will serve as a genuine grassroots organization with real members in every congressional district. This is an organization with more than a letterhead and fundraising potential – the real political capital is voters and activists who can work with the other conservative groups already out there. Our own Shadow Party, if you will. So I haven’t given up the fight – I’m just fighting in a new arena.

FP: Tom DeLay, it was a privilege to speak with you. Best of luck to you and your family. And thank you for your courageous fight for liberty and for the priceless contribution you made to it.

DeLay: Thank you for the opportunity to share part of my story. For the rest of it, you’ll have to buy the book.