Irish Senator David Norris was thought unpresidential after he was portrayed as a pederast. There were letters he wrote asking an Israeli court to grant clemency to an ex-partner accused of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy. And there was this quote attributed to him in an interview from 10 years ago:
I cannot understand how anybody could find children of either sex in the slightest bit attractive sexually … but in terms of classic paedophilia, as practised by the Greeks, for example, where it is an older man introducing a younger man to adult life, there can be something said for it. Now, again, this is not something that appeals to me.
Although, when I was younger, I would have greatly relished the prospect of an older, attractive, mature man taking me under his wing, lovingly introducing me to sexual realities, treating me with affection, teaching me about life.
Norris went on:
In my opinion, the teacher or Christian Brother who puts his hand into a boy's pocket during a history lesson, that is one end of the spectrum. But then there is another, there is the person who attacks children of either sex, rapes them, brutalises them, and then murders them. But the way things are presented here it's almost as if they were all exactly the same and I don't think they are. And I have to tell you this – I think that the children in some instances are more damaged by the condemnation than by the actual experience.
When the quotes resurfaced this year, Norris said they were taken out of the context of an intellectual discussion about the ancient Greeks. He had also requested corrections to the transcript before publication, he said, and challenged his interviewer to produce the recording. She said the tape had gone missing, but released purported diary entries showing that he had approved the transcript.
Norris dropped out of the presidential race, but then re-entered in early September. And now polls show him leading his opponents, including a former IRA commander. But Norris still needs two signatures from senate colleagues to officially become a nominee.