Conservatives Defend DeLay

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - While conservatives are rallying to the defense of Rep.Tom DeLay, liberals say his indictment shows why Americans must elect more Democrats to Congress.

"Make your contribution today," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in an email message that declared "the Republican revolution is over."

DeLay, a Texas Republican, was indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiring to violate Texas laws banning corporate political contributions. DeLay said he's innocent and he will prove it. He called the charges baseless and politically motivated, and his conservative allies agree with him.

The indictment is a "trumped-up, political witch-hunt," said James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family.

"The extreme left has seized this chance to take a swipe at one of America's leading advocates of family values. We have every confidence that time will prove these charges false and we look forward to the majority leader being fully vindicate."

Dobson said DeLay's political enemies will kick him while he's down and should be seen as the "blatant opportunists" they are.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called DeLay a champion of pro-family policies. "Many Democrats want to turn the indictment of Tom DeLay into an indictment of the ideas he champions," Perkins said.

The Family Research Council said it looks forward to working with Rep. Blunt as Congress considers tax relief for charitable giving, an amendment protecting marriage, a fetal pain bill and a ban on human cloning.

'Roll up our sleeves'

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said House Republicans "stand firmly behind Tom DeLay," noting that he is innocent until proven guilty.

Hastert said House business must continue, even though DeLay has stepped aside as House Majority Leader, as House rules require.

"We have an ambitious agenda to improve the lives of the American people and it will go forward," Hastert said.

Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who will temporarily assume DeLay's majority leader job, said he has "very big shoes to fill."

"We will work hard to do what Tom would do -- complete our work, and move forward with a positive agenda for the American people until he returns," Blunt said, adding that he believes DeLay will return to his leadership position once the legal proceedings are over.

Other Republican leaders in the House also expressed unity -- and determination to move forward for the good of the country.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said he's "deeply troubled" by the allegations against DeLay - and "deeply suspicious" of the Democrat prosecutor who is bringing them.

Pitts noted that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has brought charges against other elected Republicans in Texas, only to have his charges thrown out in court. But Earle also has prosecuted Democrats.

"Tom DeLay is an effective leader and has had a target on his back for years," Pitts said in a statement. "This prosecutor has been gunning for him and he clearly has a partisan agenda."

Pitts concluded that a court of law -- not a "vindictive Democratic prosecutor" -- will decide DeLay's fate, and the process must be allowed to take its course.