Hell No, He Won’t Go

A senior House Republican said on Sunday he thought embattled Majority Leader Tom DeLay would stay on in his post despite the cloud of ethical allegations swirling around him.

“Tom DeLay will stay as leader,” said Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Tom DeLay is not going to run away from a fight,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee last year on three separate matters involving what critics said were strong-armed political tactics.

In recent weeks more allegations have arisen over ties to lobbyists, foreign trips funded by outside groups, and payment of salaries to DeLay’s wife and daughter.

Two House Republicans have suggested DeLay should step aside, while some other Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, say he needs to explain his actions to the country.

DeLay has denied any wrongdoing. He showed a typically combative streak over the weekend when he talked about the allegations against him and then referred to Sarah Brady, the wife of the former White House press secretary Jim Brady, who was shot in the assassination attempt against former President Ronald Reagan.

“Sarah Brady said that when a man’s in trouble or in a good fight you want all your friends around them, preferably armed,” DeLay said in a speech to the National Rifle Association. “So I feel really good.”

One House Democrat said while he agreed DeLay might not be about to quit, Republicans were unlikely to want him to continue as their leader in the 2006 congressional elections.

“My guess is that he will not quit soon and that I do not think he will be a candidate for leader in the next Congress. I think that too many Republicans will decide that this is a problem in marginal districts,” Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said on “Meet the Press.”

Blunt meanwhile rejected suggestions that DeLay should hold a news conference or go on television to answer allegations of ethical misconduct.

“My impression is he has not done anything wrong,” Blunt said, adding that the ethics committee was “the best place for him to make that case.”

DeLay has said he is eager to appear before the House ethics panel to answer questions. But Democrats, in protest, have not allowed the panel to organize since Republicans voted to change its rules in a way Democrats claim would weaken the committee’s ability to investigate lawmakers.