After being targeted by a blunt ad referencing his 2007 prostitution scandal, Republican Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is hitting back with a commercial that addresses allegations about his involvement with prostitutes. “Fifteen years ago, I failed my family, but found forgiveness and love,” Vitter says in the ad, speaking directly to the camera. “I learned that our falls aren’t what define us, but rather how we get up, accept responsibility and earn redemption.”
The timeline of Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) prostitution scandal has long been a little tricky. He ran for the Senate in 2004 as a "family-values conservative," and was elected easily. It wasn't until 2007 that the far-right Republican, left with no choice, acknowledged his "serious sin" with prostitutes, in incidents that occurred when Vitter was still in the U.S. House several years earlier.
He nevertheless ran for re-election in 2010 -- a strong year for the GOP -- and won another term without fully having to address his history with hookers.
Now, however, Vitter is running for governor, facing off against a very aggressive Democratic rival, John Bel Edwards, who's eager to remind voters about the senator's scandal. By some measures, it's working: recent polling shows Edwards well positioned in the race, even picking up support from a leading GOP official in the state.
With the election now 11 days away, Vitter is in damage-control mode.
The full, 30-second ad is online here.
There's only one reason a candidate would release an ad like this: because he has to.
Obviously, Vitter would prefer to ignore his sex scandal and focus on other things, but he and his team probably have polling evidence that tells them his extra-marital affairs with prostitutes is, in fact, hurting his campaign. This new commercial is an attempt to make amends.
We'll find out soon enough whether it's effective -- Election Day is Nov. 21, which is a week from Saturday -- but don't be too surprised if Louisianans ask why Vitter is talking about "accepting responsibility" now. The senator has barely said a word about his transgressions since he acknowledged them eight years ago, and we're talking about an incident from 15 years ago.
All of a sudden, Vitter is ready to come clean with his constituents? That's nice, I suppose, but I suspect some voters will wonder what took so long.
Postscript: The initial name of Vitter's new ad was "Hard Times." This led to considerable mockery, prompting his campaign to quietly change the name of the spot to "Difficult Times." Noted without comment.