The revelation this week that Sen. David Vitter (R) was a client of the “D.C. Madam,” real name Deborah Palfrey, certainly set Capitol Hill and Cajun tongues wagging, but it is unclear how much damage his admission and apology will do to his career.
Vitter is not up for re-election until 2010.
“It’s interesting politically; there is really kind of a double-standard on these issues,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Republicans seem to be held to a higher standard — especially if they champion these issues — than Democrats, and voters do remember that.
“He is going to have re-establish the trust of the voters,” added Perkins, who served in the Louisiana Legislature with Vitter and is friends with the first-term Senator.
As long as politicians are contrite and seek private and public “redemption” for their adultery, American voters have proved they are rather forgiving, Perkins said.
But that could change depending on the circumstances, he conceded.
Vitter’s 2004 Senate race was dogged by rumors that he had an ongoing relationship with a New Orleans prostitute. After raising more than $700,000 for a gubernatorial campaign, then-Rep. Vitter bowed out of the 2003 gubernatorial race citing “family concerns.”
On Tuesday, Jeanette Maier, who admitted in 2003 to running a New Orleans brothel, told The Times-Picayune that Vitter frequented her establishment starting in the mid-1990s and ending before federal agents raided it in 2001.
Some Christian groups, whom Vitter has depended on for political support in the past, may not be as forgiving as Perkins.
He already angered a number of them when he endorsed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) presidential campaign earlier this year.
— Nicole Duran