In fact, Riley said of Hastert: " I can’t imagine him not doing everything he could to protect kids."
The praise went both ways, with Hastert making a trip to Alabama to endorse Riley during the 2002 gubernatorial primaries.
That's the same Hastert who was indicted last week on federal charges that he lied to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to an undisclosed person to "cover up past misconduct." Multiple news outlets, citing anonymous sources, report that Hastert was paying a former male student to keep quiet about allegations of sexual abuse from Hastert's time as a teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois. According to an indictment, Hastert made withdrawals totaling $1.7 million to evade detection by banks.
In other words, a man who was two heartbeats away from the presidency now stands accused of paying hush money so a victim would not out him as a child molester.
And Bob Riley claims Dennis Hastert "understands kids"? I guess it depends on the meaning of the word "understands." How dark a meaning can that word hold?
The Riley quote comes from an October 2006 interview with The Cullman Times, as Riley was running for re-election as governor. Riley was asked about U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), who had just stepped down amid allegations that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to underage male Congressional pages. Hastert reportedly sat on information about Foley for months, and his eventual resignation as speaker apparently was tied to the scandal.
Various news outlets now are reporting that the married Hastert was rumored to be involved in gay relationships during his political career in Washington, D.C.
Q: Do you see any repercussions in either your re-election campaign or the election or re-election bids of Republicans in general in Alabama as a result of the controversy surrounding former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley?
A: At a national level there may very well be some repercussions. Personally, if there was ever any attempt to cover it up those responsible should resign. I’ve known Dennis Hastert for many years. He’s a good friend. He’s a family man. He was a high school coach, and he understands kids. I can’t imagine him not doing everything he could to protect kids.
Bob Riley thought Dennis Hastert would do everything he could to "protect kids"? Again, that must depend on some unusual definition of the word "protect."
Maybe Riley's words were a form of political back scratching. After all, Hastert said nice things about Riley during the 2002 governor's race. From a Troy Messenger report:
In his endorsement, Hastert noted Riley’s record of voting with groups such as the Christian Coalition, National Rifle Association and National Right to Life Committee.
"Bob is a natural leader and consensus builder who will serve this state well," Hastert said. "If Bob Riley is half the governor that he is a Congressman, Alabama’s best days are ahead of it."
Note that Hastert essentially is praising Riley's "family values." This praise came from a man who now stands accused of paying hush money to keep his past as a child molester under wraps. Earlier in his endorsement, Hastert had praised Riley for his honesty, even though the governor would go on to be indisputably linked to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.
As it turns out, Bob Riley apparently didn't know Dennis Hastert any better than Hastert knew him.
Someone apparently did know Hastert intimately and made an odd phone call during one of the Speaker's appearances on C-SPAN. That call might have been a tip off about what eventually was to come out of Dennis Hastert's closet. Here is a video from that C-SPAN appearance: