Barney Frank: ‘The Democrats Have Become More Liberal'

By Elizabeth Harrington | November 2, 2012 | 12:23 PM EDT

FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2010 file photo, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. applauds at the Interior Department in Washington. Frank's office says he won't seek re-election in 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

( – Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Democrats in Congress “have become more liberal” since he was elected in 1980.

In an interview with the Harvard Crimson, the daily newspaper of Harvard College, on Thursday, Frank was asked to reflect upon his time in Congress and what has changed the most since he arrived in Washington.

“The parties have gotten more separate,” Frank said. “The Democrats have become more liberal. The Republicans are more uniformly conservative.... Things have changed.

“It was the takeover of the Republican Party by the Tea Party that was the most radical shift,” he continued. “This is the most extreme ideological faction controlling a major political party in American history. That’s the biggest change, and it happened in just the last couple years.”

Frank also expressed optimism for the reelection of President Barack Obama, but opined on what the outcome of a Romney administration would have on the next Congress.

“Oddly—I think if Mitt Romney’s elected, I think he’ll be more interested in doing something with [the economic stimulus] because he won’t want to see a bad economy on his watch,” he said.

Frank added that he is hopeful Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren will win in her race against incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). “She’s an extraordinarily creative person with a great ability to work very hard,” he said of Warren. “I worked very closely with her on setting up the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]. She’s a very pragmatic and creative person.”

Frank, 72, who has represented Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional District for 32 years, announced last year that he will retire at the end of this term.