Hastert may have just days to save his job
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, under fire for his handling of the Foley page scandal, may have just one or two days to turn the affair aroundor quiet it or face being forced to step aside, say senior GOP House and party officials.
"The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical for Hastert and the House leadership," said a Republican political strategist. He said that if the leadership can contain the issue fast, Hastert would not be in trouble. But there are indications that the affair will continue to expand as Democrats take advantage of the situation, possibly leading conservative Republican members to go public with their dissatisfaction with Hastert and demand his resignation.
Hastert aides and the speaker himself have shrugged off the calls to quit, noting that now is the worst time possible for the House Republican Caucus to face a leadership race. But if that were to happen, it is likely that Majority Leader John Boehner would move up a notch. He has gone out of his way to distance himself from the Foley page affair.
Other names include retiring Rep. Henry Hyde. The Washington Times, which today called for Hastert's resignation, nominated Hyde. But GOP strategists said that would only compound the party's problem because of Hyde's admitted affair while he was married and was a rising star in Illinois politics. At the time, the leak of his old affair was blamed on Democrats hopeful of squelching Hyde's probe into the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.