Santorum's Nevada link

There's at least one link between Nevada and Rick Santorum, who has become the latest Republican presidential contender to grab the spotlight with his all-but-victorious performance in the Iowa caucuses

Followers of the scandal that brought down former Sen. John Ensign will remember Santorum as the buddy who tipped off Ensign in June 2009 that his extramarital affair was in the process of being leaked to the national media.

Santorum, a former senator and U.S. House member, was close friends with Ensign, a fellow Christian conservative.  He initially refused to talk about his role in the Ensign matter, but ultimately it came out in a Senate ethics report last May.

In September, Santorum finally acknowledged he had alerted Ensign of impending trouble from Doug Hampton, who was trying to blow the whistle on Ensign's affair with his wife. Santorum told Politico he was trying to help a friend.

In another side note to the Iowa caucus, if not for Ensign's downfall that culminated in his Senate resignation, the Nevadan might have been in the middle of the caucus action.

On June 1, 2009, Ensign, whose Republican star was rising fast, traveled to Sioux City to speak to a conservative group and tour several businesses.  The trip prompted speculation that he might be positioning himself for national office.

Ensign professed to be taken aback by the attention, even as conventional wisdom has it that no politician travels to Iowa by accident.

By June 16,  Ensign's climb was dashed when he held a news conference in Las Vegas to admit that he had an affair in 2007-2008.