Wednesday Must-Reads: Crisis Management

Nevada Sen.

Nevada Sen. John Ensign, known for his past criticisms of politicians' moral missteps, has admitted an affair of his own. So how well did he handle the crisis? He gets points for jumping in front of the story even before there was any whispering. Politico checked in with some damage control experts, who offer advice:

He did it humbly—no jacket, no tie, no visible Senate pin. He offered a low-key apology to his wife, his kids and his constituents, and he affirmed his intention to continue fulfilling his duties in the Senate. One strike against him: His wife wasn't at his side—or at least not within the range of the TV cameras aimed at his admission. Another Ensign mistake: he may have spilled a few too many details—including that the mistress and her husband were personal friends.

Though he called for Clinton's resignation back in '98, don't expect Ensign to resign, Nate Silver says. Republicans are trying hard to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid next year, and a special election brought about by Ensign's resignation would distract from those efforts. Reacting to insults is another essential aspect of crisis management. Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama have both been publicly insulted lately, and their reactions reveal two different models: public feud (for Palin) or lack of comment (for Obama). Though given the difference between each woman's public role and the levels of celebrity of their insulters differs greatly, I think the two are a bit hard to compare too directly. Though Rep. Joe Sestak's challenge against Arlen Specter is still not official, there's been plenty of talk from consultants ready to sign up with the Pennsylvania congressman. State legislators are talking about opening up Pennsylvania's primaries, however, which would benefit Specter by bringing in Republican votes. In other Pennsylvania news, my old congressman Rep. Jim Gerlach is making the GOP impatient as he decides what to run for next. Hotline's got the early numbers on the Deeds-McDonnell match-up in Virginia, including not just the head-to-head poll discussed last week but also favorables and unfavorables. Deeds has a narrow advantage in the numbers, at least for now, and bloggers are starting to dream up strategies that could him into the governor's mansion. Deeds' other big match-up may be with New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine: just where will Obama spend his political capital? Corzine is trailing to Republican Chris Christie and polls and was recently targted in an ad by the RGA. A final strategy to note: Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is turning to the grassroots in his efforts to win a Senate seat, launching a web video and appealing to the netroots on Daily Kos.

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