Is David Wu fit to be a Congressman? Our exclusive interview.

By Carla Axtman and Kari Chisholm.

Amidst all the reporting about Congressman David Wu, the departures of his senior staff, his bizarre behavior (especially in October 2010), and the medical issues that surround all of that - one big unspoken question has loomed: Is David Wu fit to be a Congressman, effectively serving and representing the 1st Congressional District?

And it's that fundamental question that led the two of us to ask for an interview with Congressman Wu. Given that he's been refusing interview requests from a number of local publications in recent weeks, we felt that we might be able to get under the surface of the upbeat talking points that he's been using in every public venue.

It took a few weeks to schedule, and we were initially promised only ten minutes for our interview -- an interview that would be held after 5 p.m., and didn't actually get started until 5:40 p.m. -- a perfect setup for a "Sorry, we're out of time" ejection. But to Wu's credit, he didn't cut us short. He spent just over an hour and talked at length - and in many cases, off the well-worn talking points we've heard already.

At first, the Congressman was nervous - especially as we started our questions with the toughest one we had. (After all, we thought we only had ten minutes, and that might only be enough for one or two questions. We weren't going to start with softballs!) As the interview went on, he opened up. As he often does in public, he veered off into funny and personal stories as a way of lightening the conversation. And he did, of course, spend considerable time addressing the substantive issues that he's working on in Congress - from human rights in China, to internet freedom, to creating jobs through technological innovation.

But over the course of an hour, we posed a number of tough questions. And he answered them. In retrospect, there are certainly some unanswered elements, some follow-ups that we could have pushed on. But in the interest of letting you in on the discussion, we've decided to publish large excerpts of the transcripts of our interview.

There's a lot, so we'll be releasing it in chunks today and tomorrow -- as we get the transcripts done.

Here's a taste of what we wanted to know:

As to that big question - Is he fit to be in Congress? - we'll leave that to your judgment. We look forward to your comments and questions.

Dig in here:

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    Looking forward to reading this.

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      What do you think of the first two installments, already published?

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        I also like this effort. You are asking questions that the other journalists have not asked.

        My issue with his answer to the question about how he spent his weekend is that it does not answer the question why was he avoiding the press and why was he not coordinating with the campaign?

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    Congressman Wu sure does represent a high tech savvy district, doesn't he? A whole hour for the always interesting Blue Oregon blog. What a scoop for you folks and what a smart move by Congressman Wu. Kudos.

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    You missed, "Why did you say you didn't want the police called to your auto accident, after you had been drinking?"

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      There's no evidence that he was drunk during that incident, Jack. He passed a field sobriety test. What kind of answer would you have expected to get from that question?

      There were plenty of other, more interesting and more pressing questions, in my view.

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        Agreed, Carla.

        Jack, I do think there are about two or three dozen worthy questions. We were told we had ten minutes. So, we worked carefully to identify and prioritize a half-dozen questions that we thought were the most salient - and particularly, ones that we thought hadn't been asked and answered already.

        For example, I'm a political junkie - but we didn't ask any questions about his 2012 campaign prospects. We also didn't ask any questions about his mental health (though it came up repeatedly in his answers) because I'm interested in questions of judgment, not mental health.

        We got an hour - still only got through five questions.

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      "You missed, 'Why did you say you didn't want the police called to your auto accident, after you had been drinking?'"

      I'm always amazed when people think questions where the answer is obvious are tough questions.

      "I wasn't drinking but it was an embarrassing situation nonetheless and I didn't want any more attention drawn to it than absolutely necessary" is an answer most politicians could come up with even if they were drunk at the time they were answering it.

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    OK, all six parts of our interview are now up. Thanks to Congressman David Wu for taking the time to talk with us - and thanks to all of our readers for joining us in the conversation.

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    Thanks for doing this piece, Kari and Carla (and for taking the time, Congressman Wu).

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