Republican Louisiana Sen. David Vitter lashed out at a CNN host on Monday for asking if there were similarities between his prostitution scandal and the infidelities of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
“Newt Gingrich has been suffering some heat over his cheating on his first wife, cheating on his second wife with his third wife,” CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield reminded Vitter. “And you have also suffered heat in your political career as well back in 2007, admitting to having made call some calls to an alleged prostitution operation.”
“You did very well when you ran for re-election in 2010,” she continued. “In fact, if I look at the numbers, I think you trounced your opponent by, what, 19 points or something like that? You seemed to manage that baggage very well. I want you to weigh in on Newt Gingrich’s baggage and handling that baggage, and what it is like for a politician who has some serious baggage trying to be elected.”
“Ashleigh, the good news is, in America, it’s not up to CNN,” Vitter shot back. “It’s up to American people and it’s up to voters. That was the case in my election in 2010. That’s going to be the case in this presidential election.”
“Well, I appreciate that you say it’s not up to CNN,” Banfield replied. “But I like to say we’re the messenger here and one of the messages that you gave was this quotation about your incident and you said, ‘This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.’”
“You’re personally, in my opinion, outdoing King, but go for it — John King, but go for it,” Vitter said, in reference to a recent debate where CNN moderator John King asked Gingrich about allegations that he had asked his second wife for an “open marriage” so that he could carry on an affair.
“I’m not trying to outdo anyone, sir,” Banfield told Vitter. “I am trying to hold you accountable for the things you did. … What I’m asking you is — can you compare the difficulties that you struggled with to what Newt Gingrich is struggling with?”
“No, I can’t,” Vitter grumbled.
“I appreciate greatly, not only you getting up early and coming in to speak to me, but also equating me with John King, because I think he’s pretty great,” Banfield said, concluding the interview.
Watch this video from CNN’s Early Start, broadcast Jan. 30, 2012.