This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, June 25, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK RYAN, FORMER ILL. SENATE CANDIDATE: I learned a very valuable lesson and we've already expressed to each other, she and I, our sorrows for things that we didn't do correctly in the marriage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Republican Jack Ryan (search) becomes the latest politician to be hoisted by his own petard, that's an old French saying. The sex scandal involving Ryan and his ex-wife has forced him out of the Illinois Senate race. Ryan says the distraction makes it impossible to debate the issues. Heather Nauert is here with more on this story. Hi, Heather.
HEATHER NAUERT, FNC CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. In divorce papers that were released by a California judge earlier this week, Ryan's ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan claims her then husband asked her to go to sex clubs with him, took her to sex clubs with him and asked her to have sex with him in these clubs in public.
Now candidate Ryan's conservative backers are now saying that they essentially were duped into believing that he was a squeaky clean guy and the scandal, of course, tanking his chances to become potentially the next Republican Senator from Illinois. Now he is not the first politician to go belly up because of a sex scandal and he certainly won't be the last. I'm joined by reputation management consultant Mike Paul. And that is a big question, Mike. Why do sex scandals ruin some politicians but not others?
MIKE PAUL, CRISIS PR SPECIALIST: Well, you know, obviously being the king of fetish isn't going to help any Senatorial candidate. But that is a good question. One of the things that is very important is that he is a candidate. He is not someone who is already in elective office. And he does not have the political equity to be able to withstand a fight like this.
NAUERT: In other words, if it were somebody else, if it were an incumbent Republican or Democrat for that matter, he would certainly have a better chance of having the voters kind of forget about this than if he is just running.
But here's what I don't get, all of the Republicans in Illinois have pretty much pinned their hopes on Ryan. He is well-educated. He put a lot of his own financial backing or his own money into this race. He is a smart guy. He had sort of this squeaky-clean image. And Republicans in Illinois have been tainted by a lot of political scandals. So why were Republicans so quick to basically throw Jack Ryan to the dogs?
PAUL: Well, remember, his positioning when he came into this race as a candidate was one of Mr. Squeaky Clean. Obviously, this doesn't allow him to have that positioning anymore. This is also the type of fodder that opposition research experts on both sides of the aisle in a race like this look for.
So, you know, I, for example, used to be an opposition research specialist on a senatorial campaign here in New York for former U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato (search). This is something that we look for. We're hoping that this type of dirt, if you will, but it's also truth, comes out during a race because we know it is something that we can't stand behind. Remember, those on the Hill and those in Chicago were looking at him as a very different person than his label today. The king of kinkiness is certainly not what they wanted for a U.S. Senatorial candidate.
NAUERT: During the primary, he dismissed rumors about potentially embarrassing materials coming out from his divorce. Was that part of the fatal flaw that he basically said to Republicans, no, no, no, there's nothing to this? If he had admitted it up front and said that there was something in his background, with regards to his wife. We should mention there is nothing illegal that he is accused of doing.
PAUL: That's right.
NAUERT: Would that have changed the situation in your opinion?
PAUL: This is what a political consultant does when someone is thinking about running for office, one of the first questions they ask is, is there anything we should be concerned about? Have you ever done drugs, have you ever had inappropriate relationships? By the way, that not only goes for elected officials, that goes for basketball players, that goes for any star, anyone who is going to be in the court of public opinion on a regular basis gets asked those questions.
I think the mistake he made was that he leaned towards, quite frankly, legal advice that said, no, this thing is sealed. There's no way that they can get their hands on it. And I think that was bad advice. I was just talking to Judge Napolitano downstairs and he said, Mike, as you know, these things are something that they can get their hands on. And that's exactly what happened in this case.
NAUERT: You're right. You would think, though, after Bill Clinton (search), after Gary Hart (search), after Barney Frank (search) and some of these people, of course, there are a lot of politicians who frankly have been accused of certain illegal things, certainly many people would find them to be immoral things. Do you think after all that that people perhaps sort of loosened up a bit? Does this surprise you?
PAUL: I don't think they've loosened up. Remember, we have to put this into context that the race in Chicago -- for those around the country -- Chicago has had a problem with ethics. That's the reason why they went after a candidate, those in the Republican Party, they went after a candidate who was as squeaky clean as we thought as possible. That turned out not to be the truth.
As a result, it was not only his reputation, Mr. Ryan's that we were concerned about, it is now the reputation of those who backed him that did not want to take the heat and say, you know what, my reputation, I've been here on the Hill for a while, we picked the guy that we thought was clean. He obviously is not now. I'm not willing to risk my reputation and the reputation of my own constituents to try to help somebody that's already coming in as an underdog.
NAUERT: All right. I guess the key is be the incumbent and have strong backers, people who won't go away and pork projects probably back home to back you up.
PAUL: And tell the truth.
NAUERT: All right. Thanks a lot for joining us. And our Judge says if you are going through a divorce and you don't want your documents to be public, go through a mediator.
GIBSON: Good advice from the Judge.
NAUERT: Good advice from folks out there.
GIBSON: A little late for Jack Ryan, but good advice nonetheless.
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