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Former Congressional Leaders Debate Midterm Elections

This year's midterm elections may lead to a power change in one or both chambers of Congress. Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and former House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, discuss what is at stake.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, how this election looks to two men who've been there before and then some: former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who served as his party's leader in the U.S. Senate; and former Congressman Dick Armey of Texas, who was the Republican leader of the House.

    First, for the record, gentlemen, how would you predict what's going to happen tomorrow, House and Senate, Senator?

    TOM DASCHLE (D), Former Senator of South Dakota: Well, Jim, I think we're probably going to pick up 25 to 30 seats in the House. And if I had to guess tonight, I'd say six in the Senate. So I think we take back both the House and the Senate.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Congressman Armey?

    DICK ARMEY (R), Former House Republican Leader: Well, I'm just about there where the senator — I don't think you will take back the Senate. And that really just boils down to individual races.

    The House, I think any realistic person has to acknowledge the highest probability is the Democrats take the House back. I think there's a question then only about how large their majority will be, and I frankly don't think it's going to be all that large.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What is it going to mean for the country, for the Democrats to take control of the House again?

  • DICK ARMEY:

    Well, you know, there's so much out there to — I think some issues, a Democrat-controlled House, working with the president on immigration, might make a chance to have us make progress on it, because…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Because the president and the Democrats are closer on that and then are some of the conservative Republicans in the House?

  • DICK ARMEY:

    It's a critically important issue. I think there's going to be a lot of standoff. I don't think there will be a whole lot happen, for example, on taxes. I think there are going to be questions suspending.

    I think Nancy Pelosi is going to have the same problem we all have today in office, resisting the — what should I say — the forceful demands of your base to do something that, frankly, is ill-advised. And I think, in this case, I think her base is already grumbling that she's suggesting they won't try to impeach the president.

    I mean, I'm sitting here saying, "Go ahead. I hope you do, because I've been down that road." We did this with President Clinton, as sort of a duty that we saw sort of thrust upon us, and we got ourselves in a lot of hot water.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    You think that was a mistake?

  • DICK ARMEY:

    Well, politically it was a mistake. And the fact of the matter is, if you have a special counsel appointed by the president's own attorney general, he brings you a report, you've got to act on it.

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