The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), a member of GOP leadership and a potential candidate for president in 2012, will hold a press conference later today in which he will acknowledge having an extramarital affair “with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign’s Senate office.” Ensign flew back to Las Vegas to make the public announcement.
Since his election to the Senate in 2000, Ensign has been a leading conservative voice who demanded the resignation of former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig in September 2007. Ensign called Craig a “disgrace” after he was arrested in June 2007 in an airport men’s restroom on disorderly conduct charges. But when Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) acknowledged having an affair, Ensign didn’t call on him to resign.
Ensign has also been an ardent opponent of gay marriage. In Feb. 2004, Ensign announced his support for an amendment to the Constitution that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Ensign said the amendment, which ultimately failed, was necessary to protect “the institution of marriage“:
“Sadly, the effort to redefine marriage against the wishes of a majority of the people is, with help from activist judges, succeeding,” Ensign said. “In order to defend the institution of marriage, uphold the rights of individual states, and maintain the will of the people, I believe we are compelled to amend our country’s constitution.”
“The effort to pass a constitutional amendment reaffirming marriage as being between a man and a woman only is being undertaken strictly as a defense of marriage against the attempt to redefine it and, in the process, weaken it,” Ensign said. “Marriage is an extremely important institution in this country and protecting it is, in my mind, worth the extraordinary step of amending our constitution.”
In 1998, while running for Nevada’s Senate seat against Harry Reid, Ensign called on President Clinton to resign in light of his admitted affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky:
“I came to that conclusion recently, and frankly it’s because of what he put his whole Cabinet through and what he has put the country through,” Ensign said Thursday, becoming the first member of the Nevada delegation to call for Clinton to quit. “He has no credibility left.”
How much “credibility” does Ensign have left?
More quotes from Ensign:
“I believe that marriage should be defined as that between one man and one woman. You want to do what is ideal for children and all of the studies show that the ideal for children is to be in a household with a father and a mother.” [4/19/09]
“Mr. President, I rise today to speak on a topic that is very important. That is the preservation of the most important structure in our society.” [7/13/04]
“There’s too many people that paint with a broad brush that we’re all corrupt, we’re all amoral. … And having these kinds of things happen, whether it’s a Republican or Democratic senator — we certainly have had plenty of Democratic scandals in the past — we need people who are in office who will hold themselves to a little higher standard.” [10/18/07]