WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana slammed fellow Republican George Voinovich Wednesday for saying the GOP's problems stem from the fact that it is "being taken over by Southerners," calling the Ohio senator "a moderate, really wishy-washy."
"I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values," Vitter told the Washington Times. "There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that's why we performed so badly in the national elections."
"[Voinovich is…] a moderate, really wishy-washy," he said.
Voinovich, who has decided not to run for re-election next year, told a newspaper in his home state that Southern dominance of the GOP was hurting the party elsewhere.
"We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns," Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch Monday. "It's the Southerners….
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday that Louisiana Sen. David Vitter "did not pose a security threat" when he set off an alarm at Dulles International Airport earlier this month.
"TSA worked with local partners to review the incident and determined the actions of the individual did not pose a security threat," TSA spokesman Greg Soule said in a statement. "The individual caused a door to alarm but did not proceed into a restricted area."
Soule noted that the "review of the incident is now complete."
On March 5, the Louisiana Republican arrived at his gate with 20 minutes to spare and reportedly lost his temper when he saw that the door to plane was already closed. When he tried to open the door himself, he set off an alarm and got into a heated argument with an airport employee.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee suggested that incident was blown out of proportion.
"From the moment this story first appeared in a Capitol Hill gossip column it sounded a lot like the Democrats when they talk about trying to defeat Senator Vitter next year – a lot of hype, a lot of rhetoric but behind it all, not a lot of substance or supporting facts," NRSC communications director Brian Walsh said in a statement. "Fortunately, the record has now been set straight."
Vitter is up for re-election in 2010, his first race since his involvement with the so-called "DC Madam" became public.
- CNN's Mike Ahlers and Alex Mooney contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told the Louisiana Republican Party Friday that he will not seek the GOP Senate nomination in 2010.
“This is not the right time,” Perkins said in a letter to Roger Villere, the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party.
There had been speculation that Perkins would challenge incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter, who has been tarnished by his alleged involvement with a prostitute.
But Perkins informed Villere that he supported Vitter’s bid for re-election in 2010. Vitter “is a strong advocate for conservative principles in the U.S. Senate,” Perkins wrote.
Updated: 5:35 p.m.
(CNN) - The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is putting heat on Louisiana Sen. David Vitter for a reported run-in with a Dulles Airport employee last Thursday as he scrambled to make a flight back to his home state.
“Sooner or later Senator Vitter should learn how to control himself,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz, in an apparent reference to the Louisiana Republican's past involvement with Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam."
According to the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, Vitter arrived at the gate 20 minutes before his flight was set to depart and went "ballistic" when he saw that the gate had already been closed.
Upon trying to open the door to the jetway himself, the senator set off a security alarm and quickly grew heated with an airport employee. Vitter ultimately backed down when the employee called security, Roll Call also reported.
But Vitter suggested Wednesday the report was overblown.
"In a rush to make my flight home for town hall meetings the next day, I accidentally went through a wrong door at the gate," Vitter said in a statement. "I did have a conversation with an airline employee, but it was certainly not like this silly gossip column made it out to be."
The Louisiana senator is expected to face a tough re-election bid in 2010, still vulnerable after his phone number appeared in Palfrey's "Black Book" in the summer of 2007.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Sen. David Vitter, who admitted earlier this year to a "very serious sin" after his telephone number appeared in the telephone records of a Washington, DC escort service, faced new allegations Tuesday he had a relationship with a prostitute from his home state of Louisiana.
With Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt at her side, the former prostitute Wendy Ellis told reporters that Vitter employed her services several times a week between July and November of 1999. At the time, Vitter was a new face Capitol Hill, having won a special election only months earlier.
"I want the truth to be known," Ellis said. "It was a pure sexual relationship. He would come in and do his business."
Vitter, who acknowledged in July to contacting an escort service after Hustler reported his number was linked to the alleged 'DC Madam' Deborah Jeanne Palfrey,' has denied any links to Louisiana prostitutes.
"My admission has encouraged long-time political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation to spread falsehoods, like those New Orleans stories in recent reporting,” Vitter said in July. “Those stories are not true.”
On Tuesday, Flynt said Ellis' passed a polygraph test, but he had no other evidence linking the senator to the former prostitute.
"We don't even like to mix polygraphs into this stuff, because they're not admissible in court," he said. "But you know she's concerned that she be believed as much as Vitter is believed."
Vitter tried to keep a low profile Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. David Vitter returned from a week-long absence from Congress Tuesday, a day after he made a public apology for "a serious sin" as investigators probe an alleged prostitution ring that operated in the nation's capital.
Vitter, a conservative Republican, last week vanished from public view after his phone number turned up among those kept by a reputed "DC Madam" in records that have become part of her upcoming criminal trial.
Tuesday morning, Vitter did not visit his Senate office, where the media had camped out in anticipation of his return. He also was not seen at a residential address near the Supreme Court building.
He eventually emerged at a scheduled Senate hearing taking place near his office building. He arrived nearly 30 minutes late for the start of the panel, which heard testimony regarding commercial airline service to outlying parts of the U.S.
At first, only CNN and a local camera crew had learned of his whereabouts. But as word spread among media outlets, Senate officials had to urge order among the gaggle of newspaper writers, photographers and other television crews which began making noisy entrances to record Vitter's return.
The senator left the hearing early, and tried to ignore shouted questions and camera lights in the hallway. He then turned and stopped.
Vitter referred to comments he made Monday evening in his hometown, then said, "I look forward today to be back at work, really focused on a lot of important issues for the people of Louisiana. I'll leave it at that."
Vitter apologized privately to his fellow Republican senators at their weekly policy lunch Tuesday, senators who attended the lunch said.
One senator described his apology as "humble" and "short and to the point." The senator said Vitter was met with a great deal of "empathy" by the senators in the room.
- CNN's Paul Courson and Ted Barrett
Sen. Vitter, left, with his wife, Wendy, addressed reporters Monday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who admitted last week to employing a D.C. escort service, indicated Monday he has no intentions of resigning his Senate post and said allegations that he visited other prostitutes in Louisiana are “not true.”
"Unfortunately, my admission has encouraged some long-time political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation to spread falsehoods too, like those New Orleans stories in recent reporting,” Vitter said at a press conference with his wife, Wendy, at his side. “Those stories are not true.”
“For my part, I'll be helping finalize a crucial water resources bill to provide much better hurricane and flood protection,” Vitter added. “I'll be following up on our important defeat of a bad immigration bill by working for good border and workplace security.”
Vitter apologized to constituents last week for “a very serious sin in my past” after his number turned up in telephone records of the service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the “D.C. Madam” now facing money laundering and racketeering charges.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Vitter will face reporters in a Monday evening press conference.
Vitter, R-Louisiana, apologized to constituents last week for "a very serious sin in my past" after his number turned up in telephone records of the service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "D.C. Madam" now facing money laundering and racketeering charges.
The 46-year-old lawmaker, who is married and has four children, has not been seen on Capitol Hill since his July 9 admission. He is scheduled to hold a news conference in his hometown of Metairie, La., at 5 p.m. (6 p.m. ET)
Before winning his Senate seat, Vitter represented New Orleans' northern and western suburbs in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2004. In the Senate, he was one of the top backers of the failed "Marriage Protection Amendment" - which would have banned same-sex marriages - and serves as the southern regional chairman of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign.
In an e-mail to supporters Friday, Vitter apologized for "letting you and others down" and thanked supporters for their thoughts and prayers.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has obtained an e-mail written by embattled Sen. David Vitter to supporters on Tuesday, the day after he admitted that his telephone number turned up in the phone records of an escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, dubbed the ‘D.C. Madam.’
I write with great sadness, as well as great affection and respect for you as a friend, about disclosures that are appearing today in the media.
I have addressed this matter very directly (referring to the statement given to reporters), and deeply apologize again for letting you and others down. I also write today to say three other things.
First, thank you again for all the love and support you've always offered Wendy and myself. It is one of the greatest gifts we've been blessed with.
Second, our family will be fine, though we certainly appreciate your continuing thoughts and prayers. Those are a great comfort to all of us.
And third, I will live every day always striving to fully honor that friendship and those prayers.
- CNN Congressional Correspondent Ted Barrett
Vitter is expected to return to the Senate next week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana - who has not been seen on Capitol Hill since allegations were raised Monday he used a D.C. prostitution service - will return to the Senate next week, just in time for the first scheduled vote of the week on Tuesday, according to Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina., who has exchanged e-mails with Vitter.
"Obviously, he has a whole lot of remorse and wants to put this behind him. He seems to be handling it in a very responsible way. He is saying he was wrong. He made terrible mistakes. He is not trying to diminish the problem," said DeMint who is the first person CNN has spoken to who has communicated directly with Vitter since the scandal broke.
Vitter admitted Monday that his telephone number turned up in the phone records of an escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman dubbed the “D.C. Madam." The records date from before he won his Senate seat in 2004.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in a statement given to reporters Monday night. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and from my wife in confession and marriage counseling."
DeMint said there are no indications that Vitter, a first-term senator who is married with children, will leave the Senate.
"He'll be back next week," said DeMint who is close with Vitter.