Run Against Gingrich? Cooter From 'Dukes' Did You might remember Ben Jones as Cooter the mechanic on The Dukes of Hazzard, but Jones also spent two terms in Congress. In 1994, he faced off against a very interesting opponent: current Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich.
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Run Against Gingrich? Cooter From 'Dukes' Did

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Run Against Gingrich? Cooter From 'Dukes' Did

Run Against Gingrich? Cooter From 'Dukes' Did

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Newt Gingrich is slipping in the polls a bit in Iowa, but he still holds a lead over the other GOP candidates. He's earned a reputation as a tough debater, and according to one man who once ran against him, a formidable opponent.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOOD OL BOYS")

RAZ: In 1994, Ben Jones ran for Congress against Gingrich. Jones played Cooter on the "Dukes of Hazzard."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "DUKES OF HAZZARD")

RAZ: Ben Jones spent four years as a congressman from Georgia from 1989 to 1993. He retired that year, but in 1994, Jones decided to challenge Newt Gingrich. It was the year of the Republican revolution, and Jones says he knew he didn't have much of a chance.

: Well, I thought I had two chances, actually, slim and none.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: For some reason, I cannot tell you why. I think it's because I always, when I was a kid, was the kind of kid that would tilt at windmills. Not quixotic. It would be Quixotic, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: That kind of personality, an idealist. And I had been through the '60s and in the civil rights movement and I had seen how a small group of people could get together and make big changes. And I knew, you know, that I might have a chance. I knew also that if nobody opposed him, there was zero chance, if I didn't run. I never enjoyed anything more than that race against Newt

RAZ: Hmm. You never enjoyed...

: And he beat the pure living out of us, beat us like a rented mule.

RAZ: By 30 percent, I think, right?

: Close to it.

RAZ: Yeah. Did he ever say anything bad about you on the campaign trail? Was he a negative campaigner, or did he kind of just ignore you?

: He called me scurrilous. And I thought, scurrilous? It's a weird - it sounds awful. That's an awful-sounding word. But what it means is profane. Now, I got to admit, I can be profane. I cuss. A reporter from the Atlanta paper said, what do you think? He called you scurrilous. And I said, well, F him and the horse he rode in on knowing that this guy wasn't going to print that.

But there was another guy there who was a reporter for the alternative paper, and he wrote it up. And Gingrich said, how dare this man? You know, making remarks like that you can't even use in a family newspaper. I won't debate him. I mean, blah, blah, blah. So I said - I was on TV, and I was asked about that whole little exchange, and I said: well, I apologize to Newt's horse.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: And I'll apologize to him when he gets to the debate. He never got there. And the next time I saw him, he was the Speaker of the House.

RAZ: He called you scurrilous, and then you replied the way you did. Obviously, you could understand why he might have thought that was a little bit...

: Well, Newt was never one of the boys. Me and my old buddies would say that to each other all the time as a joke. Oh, (unintelligible) and the horse you rode in on. So if it upset him, I'm glad.

RAZ: If Gingrich does win the nomination, what advice would you give to President Obama?

: Well, no. He just got himself elected President of the United States, so there's not much advice I can give the president. But I would say simply things that he already knows. Don't take this man lightly. Challenge him to debates. Bring your best game with you. Put him on the defense and stay after him because it's - defeating Newt Gingrich would be the most important thing that he could do for this republic.

RAZ: That's former congressman Ben Jones who also played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard." He ran against...

: I still play Cooter. Now, Guy, Cooter is forever, man.

RAZ: Forgive me - who still plays Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard." He ran against Newt Gingrich for Congress in 1994. Ben Jones, thank you so much.

: Guy, it's been fun.

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