Ensign tries issues

U.S. Sen. John Ensign, under pressure from some Republicans to drop out of his reelection race because of a sex and ethics scandal, seems to be following a strategy of trying to recover some stature by taking a high road while journalists and his critics talk about the scandal.

Ensign has been feeding the press a diet of discussion of heavy-duty matters like debt as a national security issue. In one case it got him a Sparks Tribune front page, fully half of which showed a photo of the senator in a Mt. Rushmore-like pose against a backdrop reading “America cannot be great if we go broke.”

“It’s the only tool left in his shed,” said political scientist Fred Lokken. Lokken said going heavy on issues is a way of reminding voters that until the scandal, Ensign was “an experienced member of the United States Senate who was emerging as a leader” of Republicans.