GOP Senses Cooling of Outrage at Hastert
House Speaker Dennis Hastert appears to be weathering the House page scandal by winning support from conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh.
"We're just not getting those calls about quitting that we did before," said a House insider. Top GOP officials had given Hastert less than a week to quiet the storm or face more resignation calls. Insiders said they reached a fever pitch yesterday after the Washington Timeswithout notice to Hastert's officelanded on doorsteps with an editorial calling for the speaker to step aside. Also asking for his resignation were notable conservatives Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich, among others.
Today, however, the speaker's office was much more calm, with officials and even President Bush giving him credit for storming the media to explain the situation and moving to reach out to experts who might have ideas on how to improve the page system. Key to his recovery, said House aides, were winning support from conservatives and the fact that religious leaders did not join in the Times's demand for a resignation.
"The morals side is satisfied that Hastert is on top of this," said a congressional official.