Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) shared his disapproval of fellow Democratic Party members and advocated “Republican ideas” Tuesday in front of a crowd of GW’s College Republicans.
The Ohio congressman, first elected in 1985, has achieved notoriety for his antics in Congress and his public support of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
“It’s a great event. It shows bipartisanship among Republicans and Democrats,” said Bill Eldridge, chairman of the CRs. “It’s one of the more interesting events we’ve had all year. He’s an interesting speaker who brings a new viewpoint, a more moderate viewpoint.”
The congressman’s appearance was advertised as the first elected Democrat brought to campus this year.
“No matter how much hypocrisy there is, you have to tell it like it is,” Trafficant said. His hour-long speech varied from heated political oratory to comedic discussions about his experiences in the House.
“They say I did the wrong thing to vote for (Dennis) Hastert for Speaker of the House,” he said. “Why? He and the Republicans earned my vote.”
One of his greatest concerns was the lack of investigation of Chinese funds that former President Bill Clinton and other Democrats accepted during the 1992 and 1996 election campaigns.
“I’m not sure Bill Clinton committed treason with reason and intent, but his actions threatened our security,” he said. “The Democrats should have insisted on a full investigation on the Chinese communist money.”
Traficant discussed the trade deficit and what he described as the Democratic government’s passive attitude toward communism in China. He praised former president Ronald Reagan for stopping communism in China and around the world.
“Ronald Reagan’s policies brought down the Berlin Wall, they stopped communism,” he said. “(If Reagan were in office) he would say to communist China, `don’t lay one finger on (Taiwan).'”
Traficant discussed some of his antics on the House floor, including a limerick he read into the record following news about Lorena Bobbitt case when it was first in the news. Bobbitt cut of her husband’s penis after episodes of abuse.
He also mentioned having to apologize for calling House members “political prostitutes.” After his apology, he told a reporter, “I want to apologize to all the hookers in America who I offended by referring to them alongside House members.”
Traficant concluded his remarks by discussing the current state of Congress.
“The Republicans have done a fine job in the majority,” he said. “But we (the Democrats) will resist, resist, resist to get the majority back.”
Traficant said in an interview that he might consider changing political parties in the future.
“There might come a time, after many considerable disagreements with the Democratic leadership,” he said.
He told GW students in the audience to “vote what you think is best.”
CRs and students said they enjoyed the unique CR event.
“This was the best speech we’ve had from a Democrat all year,” Shannon Flaherty, vice chair of the CRs, said jokingly. “I’m proud we brought him to campus. Even though he has a `D’ next to his name, our members and I are proud that he represents the American people in Congress.”
The GW College Democrats were asked to co-sponsor the event, but they declined, Eldridge said.
“We were doing a great event, a policy forum with the Human Services Organization at the same time,” said Anjan Choudhury, president of the GW CDs. “That was the primary reason we declined.”