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Explaining Vitter’s Nay Vote « The Washington Independent

Chris Cillizza unpacks the reasons why Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who since the resignation of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) has been the most famous customer of prostitutes in politics, voted against confirming Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

The freshman Senator is preparing to run for re-election in 2010 despite revelations last year that his name turned up in the records of the “D.C. Madam”. Given those problems and talk of a primary challenge from his ideological right, Vitter’s vote against Clinton is a clear signal to conservatives in the state: “I am still one of you.”

Will it work? Maybe. Vitter has made LOTS of enemies during his rapid rise from the state House to the U.S. Senate, and politicians have a keen sense for when blood is in the water. The vote against Clinton isn’t likely to dissuade these ambitious pols from considering a run against Vitter.

Doesn’t it make him look even weaker? Hating Clinton in the year 2009 is like fighting over your favorite member of the “Hee-Haw” cast. Yes, Republicans spent the better part of two decades tearing down the Clintons, but in 2008 they spent months defining Hillary as a brilliant, qualified foreign policy expert who was being unjustly shunted aside by Democrats, in favor of now-President Barack Obama. They also defined her as the hero of working class white voters, so much so that in the closing days of 2008 she could campaign for Democrats in Kentucky—exactly the kind of state where Clinton-fatigue had hurt the Democrats from the mid-1990s onward.

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