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Hastert: I'll resign if it helps the Republicans

RAW STORY
Published: Thursday October 5, 2006

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Embattled House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has told conservative activist Paul Weyrich that he would resign if it would help the Republicans, Congressional Quarterly is reporting.

"He said if he thought that resigning would be helpful to the Republicans maintaining the majority, he would do it," Weyrich said in an interview. "But he did not think it would be helpful for Republicans."

CQ staffers report that Weyrich held, in his words, "an emotional telephone conversation" with the Speaker, who is facing accusations that he was aware of disgraced Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) behavior issues long before his office has stated he was.

According to the article, Weyrich, "who was one of the first to publicly call for the Speaker's head," withdrew his request for Hastert to resign after speaking directly with him. "I feel now that he ought to be given the benefit of the doubt," Weyrich said. "He has never, ever lied to me or dissembled. I regard him as one of the good people up there."

Weyrich had earlier in the day told NPR's Michele Norris that "homosexuals tend to be preoccupied with sex."

As RAW STORY has previously reported, conservatives such as author Richard Viguerie have called for Hastert's resignation in light of the GOP's handling of the Foley scandal.

Excerpts from the subscription-only article follow:

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"[Hastert] said he thought his resignation would just lead to a feeding frenzy where they would go after (Majority Leader John A.) Boehner, then (Rep. Thomas M.) Reynolds, then (Rep. John) Shimkus. And he said we would have the story running right up to the election."

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"The Speaker was ticked by that one involving Boehner," Weyrich said. "Boehner threw it in his lap, and said he warned him. The Speaker said no such warning ever came from Boehner."

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Next in line behind Hastert is Boehner, who has provided only fuzzy public accounts of what he knew and when about e-mails sent by Foley to underage former congressional pages.

Boehner on Tuesday both defended Hastert in a letter to the Washington Times after the Times called for Hastert's resignation in its lead editorial and publicly distanced himself from the Speaker in an interview with a Cincinnati radio station.

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