Politico.com is reporting that Idaho Senator Larry Craig is reconsidering his resignation.
Craig reversal angers GOP colleagues
By: Carrie Budoff Brown and Jim VandeHei
Sep 4, 2007 09:53 PM ESTÃ‚Â
Just when Republicans thought things could not get much worse for their scandal-stained party, Sen. Larry Craig leaked word Tuesday night that he is reconsidering his abrupt plan to resign from the U.S. Senate in the wake of his arrest in a police sex sting operation.
Top GOP strategists were neither delighted nor amused by the senator’s decision to rethink retirement after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct following his arrest in a Minnesota airport men’s bathroom.
On Saturday, Craig said he would resign at the end of this month.
A senior GOP senate strategist said Republican leaders want him gone now and will press for him to keep his promise to resign. The strategist warned Craig is “losing any goodwill built up among his colleagues,” adding, “He is simply a fish out of water, floundering right now to get his last gasp of political air.”
But Tuesday night, spokesman Dan Whiting said Craig might not resign if he is cleared of the charges before Sept. 30. Legal experts said it is doubtful Craig will be cleared because he pled guilty to the charge.
The unexpected announcement caught fellow GOP senators Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and members of Craig’s own crisis management team Ã¢â‚¬â€œ mostly by surprise and threatened to draw negative attention to the party at a time when it is preparing for big fights over the budget and the Iraq war.
“I think the episode is over,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a press conference earlier in the day. “We will have a new senator from Idaho at some point in the next month or so, and we are going to move on.”
McConnell wasn’t the only one left in the dark about Craig’s apparent new strategy. Craig has hired a team of lawyers and crisis experts to push ahead with a strategy aimed at repairing the three-term senator’s reputation.
Washington attorney Stanley Brand said Tuesday that the Senate Ethics Committee would receive a letter arguing that it should drop any plans to pursue an investigation into Craig’s arrest in a men’s room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“I don’t think the Senate ought to be policing misdemeanor offenses that don’t have anything to do with their office,” Brand said. “They would be very busy.”
Senate Republican leaders called for an ethics investigation last Tuesday into Craig’s June 11 arrest and Aug. 8 guilty plea.
But Craig has since announced his resignation, making a probe moot, Brand said.
“I am taking it as part of the good-faith exchange of his having resigned and sparing everybody the difficult questions I am raising,” Brand said. But now the resignation might be moot, too.
The GOP Senate strategist said senators are frustrated they will now spend another day or more deflecting questions about Craig and his bathroom behavior. McConnell got a taste of what’s to come at a press conference he held Tuesday.
Why, he was asked, did the GOP leadership seek an ethics investigation of Craig while giving a pass to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) after he acknowledged in July that his phone number was among those on the
client list of an alleged prostitution ring?
“No charges have been made,” McConnell said of Vitter. “And it appears whatever might have occurred, occurred before this individual came to the Senate, therefore raising serious questions as to whether the Senate has jurisdiction over it.
“The situation last week was, there was something admitted to; the legal case was, in effect, over,” McConnell continued. “The only question was what the attitude was going to be in the Senate regarding
the admission that was made. It is clearly distinguishable.”
McConnell was pressed again: Were the responses different because the Craig incident involved alleged homosexual activity?
“This had to do with the admission of responsibility as opposed to charges or suggestions,” McConnell said.
He rejected suggestions that the Craig and Vitter incidents, coupled with the FBI raid of the home of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in late July as part of a federal corruption probe, have contributed to Congress’ sub-basement approval ratings or soiled the Republican Party brand.
“The overwhelming majority of members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, are honorable people,” McConnell said.
But the honorable thing for Craig to do, the strategist said, is simply disappear.
Can it get any worse for the GOP (Grand Old Perverts)?Ã‚Â