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Political sex scandals: Who survived, who didn't, and why

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Sen. David Vitter (R) of Louisiana was joined by his wife, Wendy, and son Jack at a news conference in Metairie, La., after his 2004 election.
Bill Haber/AP/File
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3. Sen. David Vitter: survivor

In 2007, Sen. David Vitter (R) of Louisiana was ensnared in the “D.C. Madam” scandal when he was identified as a client of Deborah Palfrey, who ran a Washington prostitution ring. He remains in office today.

How did he get past his troubles? To mix metaphors, he circled the wagons and changed the subject. He quickly issued a statement implicitly admitting the charges. A few days later he appeared before microphones with his wife by his side, and both made public pleas for forgiveness, without taking questions. Then he refused to resign, declined to address the subject again, and talked relentlessly about what he was doing for his state.

Senator Vitter was helped by the fact that if he had quit, Louisiana’s then-governor, a Democrat, likely would have appointed a Democrat in his place. Thus the state GOP did not abandon him. He did face voters again until 2010, when he easily won reelection.

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