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Hastert says GOP is out of synch with young voters@

Associated Press Published: November 15, 2012

He said he'll never forget the blue flames and the black smoke billowing out of the Pentagon as he flew over in a helicopter. He also gave a special tribute to the passengers on Flight 93 who overwhelmed terrorists and crashed the plane in rural Pennsylvania. The aircraft was headed for Washington.

"If it hadn't been for those people, that plane would've been in the front door of the Capitol," he said.

He defended controversial measures passed in later years such as the Iraq war resolution ("made on a bipartisan basis") and the Patriot Act (one of several tools he said prevented more than 20 subsequent terrorist attempts).

"One thing that I said and the president said, we weren't going to let 9/11 happen in this country again," he said. "And we didn't."

He also riffed on Florida's history of election hiccups, noting that the "hanging chad" election of 2000 wasn't just a punch line for him. As No. 3 in the line of succession, he watched with personal interest as the U.S. Supreme Court effectively decided the election that December.

"If they hadn't made this decision … I would have been the temporary president of the United States," he said. "And that's something I really didn't want to do."

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.