July 27th, 2010
04:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Former GOP House Speaker sounds off on midterms

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/27/art.hastert0727.gi.jpg caption="Former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, center, spoke with CNN Tuesday about his Democratic successor Speaker Nancy Pelosi, foreground, and the upcoming midterm elections."]
Washington (CNN) - Former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert has some advice for Democrats if they want to remain in the majority: stop the squabbling.

Hastert was on Capitol Hill Tuesday meeting with former colleagues when he told CNN that the Democrats' agenda and leadership style are adversely affecting their prospects in the November midterm elections.

"I had a philosophy of leadership," the former high school wrestling coach said. "If the coach is in the headlines every day, the team is in trouble. If the team is in the headline everyday, then you're doing alright."

The recent tussle between House Democrats and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs over the likelihood of losing big in November and the renewed press coverage of Rep. Charlie Rangel's problems with the House Ethics Committee have taken their toll on the Democrats coordinated messaging efforts, making top House Dems focus on issues they would rather not have to discuss.

But Hastert had kind words for his Democratic successor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying "she's got a lot of talent," while also blaming her for creating a leadership structure that is top heavy. "All the decisions are coming from one point. They're not bubbling up."

With the current House's passage of a health care bill and vote in support for climate change legislation known as "cap-and-trade," Hastert contends that the ingredients are there for a scenario similar to 1994, when Democrats lost their majority to Republicans for the first time four decades. During the 103rd Congress, which preceded the 1994 midterm elections, House Democrats also supported a controversial health care measure and voted to tax carbon emissions.

"All those things are there now. So I can't say it will be identical, but the contents are a recipe," he said.

Filed under: 2010 • Democrats • House
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. JIlli

    Why would anyone want advice from a useless crook like Hastert?

    July 27, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  2. Joey

    Soon to be Ex-Speaker Pelosi!

    July 27, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  3. Len Smith

    Speaker Pelosi has been one of most effective speakers of the House of Representatives in the history of our great country and will stand in history next to Sam Rayburn and John McCormick and others. We are lucky to have someone who cares about the average American and works hard for America. Thank you Madam Speaker.

    July 27, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Greg Hodges

    I actually agree with Dennis Hastert`s comments by and large. I also have some advice for liberal kindred spirits. A priest once told me long ago, that a wise man listens carefully to his critics. Much will be utter nonsense; but every once in awhile they may make a telling point about a weakness one has a blind spot about. Both sides of the war of words that passes for debate these days are so busy screaming at one another , they have become deaf to real constructive criticism. The point Hastert is making is; those in charge need to really LISTEN to other points of view, rather than ASSUME they know it all. This is a recipe for disaster for either side. The best TEAM usually does win; and the Democratic leadership should remember that!

    July 27, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. vwrtb

    You repubs can take my pension and social security benifits and lower my wages and ship my neighbors job overseas if that will help... Oh... You already did that?

    July 27, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. paul

    Hastert is spending in full the total allotment for "offices and office expenses" including staff that Congress gave him as retiring speaker – certainly not conservative in his spending habits with our money.

    July 27, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. usualone

    As if the Republicans have ideas coming from all kinds of directions. They are the party of "no" (tired of hearing, writing, saying that at this point) and must be arm twisting those Republicans who have different opinions. Ms. Pelosi gets things done, with all the Repubs throwing all kinds of wrenches. They must be jealous.

    July 27, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  8. reggie from la

    Always a sourpuss in the picture. Everybody's havin' a good ol' time except Sen. Boehner. Seems he never was one for fun. Bitter. Gruff. Doesn't want Obama administration and Americans havin' any fun either. Spends a lotta time makin' sure of it. Grrrr

    July 27, 2010 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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