Chambliss: I won't change approach

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (File Photo)

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (File Photo)

ATHENS, Ga. -- U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss doesn't believe the partisan gridlock in the nation's capital is likely to let up soon, but he doesn't plan to let that stop him from continuing to fight for what he thinks is best for the country during his remaining two years in office, he said Monday.

"I think it may surprise some people, particularly my critics, to know that I'm not going to change my principles," the Georgia Republican said. "I'm not going to change my philosophy. I'm going to continue to advocate for what the things that I think are in the best interest of the country, whether it's the fiscal issue or any other issue.

The 69-year-old Chambliss spoke at the University of Georgia, his first public appearance since he announced Friday that he wouldn't seek a re-election next year. He and Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, were on hand to talk about leadership and public service as part of the Terry Leadership Speaker Series, but they shifted their focus a bit in light of Chambliss's recent announcement.

The two are original members of the "Gang of Six," a bipartisan group of senators working to solve the country's debt problems, and their famous congeniality and mutual respect was on full display.

"I've spent more time with him over the last two years than I have with my wife," Chambliss quipped, going on to laud Warner's business sense.

Warner, in turn, said Chambliss is "the epitome of a Southern gentleman, courtly, calm, relaxed," and said the two-term senator and former U.S. representative is "a true example of political courage" for teaming with Democrats in 2010 to tackle the deficit issue even though he drew criticism from some in his own party.

Despite their bipartisan efforts, they failed to come up with a grand compromise on fiscal issues.

Chambliss expressed frustration over partisan gridlock in Washington when he announced he wouldn't seek a third term. And he said Monday he doesn't see that changing in the near future. The tough, partisan debate over budget control and raising the debt ceiling in July and August 2011 "was an ugly process," as was the fight over the fiscal cliff at the end of last year, Chambliss said.

"Y'all send us to Washington to make hard and tough decisions," he said. "They are political in nature because everything in Washington is political, but this is our country, for gosh sakes, and here we were headed off this fiscal cliff that was a very predictable crisis and yet there was not the willingness to find that common ground, and that's not what Saxby Chambliss is all about."

Warner also expressed frustration with the political bickering in Washington. He hasn't made any decisions yet about whether to seek re-election himself, he said. To keep the extreme wings of either party from taking over, people who are willing to work with the other side need to continue to step up, he said. He dismissed worries that that can make politician vulnerable.

"If you're not making a few folks upset, you're not doing your job," Warner said.

As soon as Chambliss announced his decision, chatter began about who would replace him, and the list of potential contenders is long. Chambliss, who said he was never worried about his own re-election prospects, chuckled when asked if he would endorse anyone for the job before saying he wouldn't get involved in the Republican primary.

He did, however, have a word of caution for those who covet his spot: "They need to follow me for a couple of weeks. It is not an easy life."


rightasrain 2 years, 10 months ago

LIke the rest of the politicians in Washington, Chambliss has it 100% wrong when he thinks he was "sent" to Washington to do what in his opinion is best for our country. Mr. Chambliss, you and the other politicians were sent to Washington to do what your Constituients tell you to do.


J.D._Sumner 2 years, 10 months ago

Which constituents? The conservatives? The neo-conservatives? the moderates? the liberals? the socialists and progressives? They all live in the state that he took an oath to represent.

A majority of people in the state elected a person they felt most closely mirrored their views, their feelings on social issues, and their ideals concerning government, so he could then vote based on those feelings.

They don't poll every voter in the state each time an issue comes before Congress, that's why we have a democratic republic.


FryarTuk 2 years, 10 months ago

Chambliss " . . . I'm not going to change . . . " How disappointing.


waltspecht 2 years, 10 months ago

How about representing the views of all your constituants, that is what you were elected to do. Not your views. Plus, you should weigh the values and opinion of all, not just those that voted for you. Most Politicians are so lost in Majority rule that they never realize they are really supposed to represent a blend of those they have pledged to serve.


J.D._Sumner 2 years, 10 months ago

Just a quick retort Walt, how does an elected official represent the views of "all" of their constituents? It's one of the fundamental flaws and strengths of a democratic republic. How does one man represent the views of an entire state's worth of people -- many of whom, even within their own political sect, have varying ideas and concerns?

That's why, in a democratic republic, we attempt to elect people whose views and values most close reflect ours, with the belief that they'll go and and vote on our behalf using those same views and values.

That's what makes our type of government and society so hard to maintain.


waltspecht 2 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, I believe Lobbiests and donators have far more sway than any of them should in compartison to the average voter. You want to tell me he will be leaving office with the same net worth he went into the office with? Or is he like Sanford, hides it and claims excessive legal fees, but his house, wife and step-children are all set up well.


whattheheck 2 years, 10 months ago

Many in Congress represent only things that are in their self interest which includes the overwhelming desire to remain in office and in a position of power. Over time, they become so wrapped in a cloth of arrogance and self importance that they are reachable only by those on the outside who also have power, money, and influence that helps them stay in office. Any who think their Congressional representatives have the "best interest of the country", or "individual constituents" (without power and money) in mind don't have much experience with the real world of national politics.

Senator Harry Reid's comment a few years back put things pretty well in perspective on where we stand in Congress' eyes. Concerning the new visitor center in the Capitol building, he mentioned the smell of the unwashed masses in the warmer months which would be reduced when people funnel through the center rather than wander the halls of the building. Pretty well sums it up in my opinion.


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