Icky Endorsements

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 22, 2008 12:33pm

ABC News’ John Berman Reports: Who would you rather have backing your campaign:  The alleged Casanova of the can,  the purported purveyor of prostitutes, or the alleged land-scam lawmaker?

For the presidential candidates this year, these are just some of the rather unfortunate endorsements they have received.

Today Republican Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona was indicted on charges of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other matters in an Arizona land swap scam.  Renzi is also one of the Arizona state co-chairs for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.

But McCain is hardly the first candidate this cycle to garner an endorsement he might like to give back. 

Republican Senator Larry Craig was a big-time backer of former Gov. Mitt Romney, before being accused of soliciting sex in a Minnesota men’s bathroom.

And Senator David Vitter was a big part of Team Giuliani, before his name turned up in the blackbook of  "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s.   Vitter was forced to apologize for  "a very serious sin in my past." (By that he mean soliciting prostitutes, not backing Giuliani.)

It is a bit if a conundrum for candidates.  They obviously want as many endorsements as they can get, and they don’t have much control what their supporters do when the lights are off and no one is looking.

But how they handle their relationship when the chips are down is a bit revealing. Today, McCain expressed more concern than anger when he learned of the Renzi indictment.

At a news conference in Indianapolis, he said, "I’m sorry obviously, you always feel for the family as you know he has 12 children. But I don’t know enough of the details or anything to make a judgment, this kind of thing is always, is always very unfortunate. I rely on our department of justice and our system of justice to make the right outcome.”

Mitt Romney on the other hand chose the nuclear option when dealing with the Larry Craig matter.  He called Craig’s reported actions, “disgusting.”

This wasn’t particularly appreciated by Senator Craig, who in an interview later said, “ "I was very proud of my association with Mitt Romney. I’d worked hard for him here in the state. I was a co-chair of his campaign on Capitol Hill. And he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again."

Maybe Craig had the last laugh. He is still a Senator, and Mitt Romney is no longer a presidential candidate. 

Can anyone think of any other examples of endorsements candidates might like to give back?

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