Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Ensign and out-of-wedlock births

(A team of Sun reporters is at the Republican National Convention this week in St. Paul.)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Nevada Sen. John Ensign surfaced at the Republican National Convention this afternoon and one of the first questions we asked was about his 1997 comment that “out of wedlock births need to be somewhat stigmatized.”

What about Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin’s daughter, a 17-year-old who is pregnant — should that child be given a social stigma?

No, Ensign said. The difference is that the Alaska governor’s teen daughter plans to marry the child’s father.

“She’s not going to have an out-of-wedlock birth,” he said. “She made a mistake. She’s taking the responsibility.”

Ensign said his earlier remarks were meant to “encourage people to have children in a way that is best for the child. That is with two parents.”

He spoke of his own father who left his mom and him. “That kind of behavior should not be encouraged. It should be criticized.” (Ensign’s mom later married Las Vegas casino mogul Mike Ensign.)

Ensign has spent the past two days in town meeting and greeting donors to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has the elusive goal of trying to elect Republicans to the Senate.

He also arrived for his stay at the W. Hotel with his bike in tow, and tried to hit the state’s famed riding trails today — only to get benched by a flat tire. It’s not a metaphor for political fortunes.

In fact Republicans are buoyed, he said, by the announcement of Palin as Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running mate. “A sea change in the mood, in everything.”

“It is nothing but positive,” he said. “I cannot even describe to you what this has done to our prospects of winning the White House.”

But then he added this perhaps unintentionally ominous thought: “If she turns out as good as her potential, it’s a tremendous choice.”

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