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Ensign Is Back But Not Exactly In the Saddle


Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) is mobbed by reporters upon his return to Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) made a not-so-grand return to Washington this week for his first Senate vote since admitting he had an extramarital affair with a campaign aide.

Even though he bucked his party to protect his home state's interests, Ensign still emerged from hiding a loser, unable to attract enough Republican support to pass a tourism promotion bill he co-authored with Nevada colleague Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Ensign had just one Republican - Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida - supporting his effort. And Reid had his own problem: seven Democratic senators were absent, including the gravely ill Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). So while every Democrat present voted for the bill, Reid and Ensign failed, 53-34, to get the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and push the tourism measure to a final vote.

Reid blamed Republicans last night. "This is obstructionism at its best, and it follows what the Republicans have admitted they want to do - stop any and all progress," he said.

But the Nevada state Democratic Party blamed Ensign, saying in a statement that the "recent distractions of his personal life are affecting John Ensign's ability to do his job for Nevadans in Washington."

Now that he's back in Washington and working again, Ensign finds himself under a microscope, with many wondering whether he'll be able to survive the stunning admission of his affair with former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton.

The Ensign camp initially suggested to various media outlets that the senator had been blackmailed by Hampton's husband, Doug Hampton, who also worked for Ensign. But now Ensign claims that Mr. Hampton's lawyer has been demanding exorbitant amounts of money from the senator to pay off his client.

Ensign's approval rating has plummeted from 53 percent a month ago to 39 percent over this past weekend, according to a survey conducted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The number of Nevadans who have an unfavorable view of the senator has doubled.

As the Las Vegas Sun notes, Ensign once said he would resign if he found himself in a situation similar to that of former senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho). Ensign had called on Craig to resign after the Idaho Republican was busted in a men's room sex sting in the Minneapolis airport. "I wouldn't put myself, hopefully, in that kind of a position ... but if I was in a position like that, I think that's what I would do," Ensign was quoted telling the Associated Press at the time.

But Ensign undoubtedly is paying attention to the Review-Journal poll, which shows that a majority of Nevada voters - 62 percent - do not think he should resign over his affair with a campaign staffer.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 23, 2009; 7:26 AM ET
 
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Comments

He's not going to resign. That would be a rejection of hypocrisy, which is fuel to a politician. Without feeding off their own self righteous energy, they would wither away and cease to exist.


Posted by: trident420 | June 23, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

So the Republicans are turning on their own once again. Senator Ensign could join the Democratic Party, they will welcome him with open arms. Apparently, the GOP has taken that slogan, Conservative "RIGHT", a little to far. There is nothing "RIGHT", about them. If the people of Nevada aren't calling for Ensign's head on a platter, then his Republican colleagues should cut him some slack. They are as "GUILTY" as he is, of something. It's amazing the party of "MORALS", has no Morals.

Posted by: austininc4 | June 23, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | June 23, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | June 23, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"He's not going to resign. That would be a rejection of hypocrisy, which is fuel to a politician. Without feeding off their own self righteous energy, they would wither away and cease to exist. Posted by: trident420"

He's not going to resign until he has done as much damage to his own reputation and the Republicans in general as humanly possible. THEN he will resign to spend more time with his family.

It's the traditional thing to do, and especially the REPUBLICAN thing to do, ask Mark Foley or Larry Craig.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 23, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Ensign said that if caught in a situation similar to Craig's, he would resign. So, let's check the similarities:

Sex outside marriage: check
Sex in a public bathroom: No
Plead no contest to indecency: No
Attempted anonymous sex with a man: No

Then, unlike Craig, Ensign had:
sex with a married woman,
sex with an employee,
sex with an employee's wife, and
questionable payments to mistress and mistress' husband.

So there you have it. Not very similar at all.

Posted by: Renu1 | June 23, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Ensign won't resign. Just as with Sen. David Vitter when he returned to the Senate after his diaper fetish and call girl sessions were "exposed", Ensign was applauded by fellow Republican Senators yesterday when he returned. It's okay if you are a Republican!

It is also interesting to note that Ensign had no criticism for Vitter when that scandal broke, but he loudly condemned Sen. Larry Craig. Maybe with Ensign it's okay if you are REPUBLICAN and "STRAIGHT"????

Oh what hypocritical fools they are!

Posted by: cashmere1 | June 24, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

The question I want answered is what is James Dobson's response to this? The Christian Right is quick to condemn Democrats that screw up (Clinton), but are nowhere to be found when a Republican does the same thing. The Christian Right has embraced Senator Vitter, who spent thousands on prostitutes. Now they are silent on Senator Ensign, who gave thousands of campaign dollars to his mistress. Is the Christian Right calling for Ensign's resignation like they did with Clinton? Of course not! They support Ensign's family values. He's so pro-family he had two families -- the family with his wife and the family with his mistress.

Posted by: trl618 | June 24, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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