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Republican officials say senior U.S. lawmaker is considering resigning after men's room arrest in sex sting

Republican officials say senior U.S. lawmaker is considering resigning after men's room arrest in sex sting

A senior U.S.Republican senator is considering resigning, party officials said Friday, after days of public and private pressure stemming from his arrest in June in an undercover vice operation in an airport men's room.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, the Republican governor of the western, conservativre state of Idaho that Sen. Larry Craig, represents appears to have settled on a successor _ Lt. Gov. Jim Risch _ Republican officials in in the state said Friday.
Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on Aug. 1, and while he has since said he did nothing wrong, the episode has roiled the Republican party and produced numerous calls for him to step down.
Republicans lost control of Congress in last November's elections, partly due to scandals, and are trying to regroup in preparation for the next round of voting, this time with the presidency at stake, in late 2008. Many conservatives, a significant base in the party, oppose homosexuality.
President George W. Bush passed up an opportunity to defend Craig. Asked Friday at a White House press event if the senator should resign, Bush said nothing and walked off stage.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Craig's conduct "unforgivable" and acknowledged that many in his caucus believe Craig should resign.
"We have acted promptly to begin the process of dealing with this conduct," McConnell said Thursday. "We will see what happens in the coming days."
An aide said Friday that McConnell has not talked with Craig since Wednesday, when Republican leaders asked him to step down from his committee leadership posts.
The developments were further evidence that Republican officeholders and party leaders want Craig to give up his seat in the Senate as soon as possible.
As a measure of the pressure Craig faces, party officials said a statement had been drafted at Republican Party headquarters calling for the third-term senator to resign. It was not issued, these officials said, in response to concerns that it might complicate quiet efforts under way to persuade the 62-year-old lawmaker to give up his seat.
Besides a new scandal, Republicans' Senate prospects in next year's election were also set back Friday by Sen. John Warner's announcement that he will retire rather than seek a sixth term. Democrats captured Virginia's other seat in the Senate from the Republicans in the 2006 election.
The contest for control of the next Senate was already tilted against Republicans, who must defend 22 of 34 seats on the ballot next year. With a Republican candidate other than Craig, Republicans would stand a much better chance of keeping his Idaho seat in 2008.
Craig has not made any public statements about his case since an appearance earlier this week in his home state in which he said he had done nothing wrong. "I am not gay. I never have been gay," he added emphatically.
He said any additional comment would be posted on his official Web site, where the only reference to the incident as of Friday was a text of the statement he read before the television cameras.
Risch served for seven months as governor last year after former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was named Interior Secretary.
Craig served in the House before winning his first Senate term in 1990, and compiled a strongly conservative voting record.
He was arrested on June 11 by an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport men's room who said the senator had engaged in conduct "often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct."
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Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Nevada; Joshua Freed in Minneapolis; John Miller and Todd Dvorak in Idaho and Liz Sidoti in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-14 23:19 GMT+08:00