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Idaho Sen. Craig to announce plans Saturday, considering resigning after sex sting

Idaho Sen. Craig to announce plans Saturday, considering resigning after sex sting

A senior Republican senator from Idaho will announce his future plans Saturday after widespread calls from fellow Republicans to resign over a men's room sex sting, the lawmaker's spokesman said Friday.
Dan Whiting, spokesman for Sen. Larry Craig, said there would be an announcement Saturday but would not say whether Craig will step down. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter already appears to have settled on a successor: Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, according to several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations.
Craig has been out of public view since Tuesday, but Republican sources in Idaho said he spent Friday making calls to top party officials, including the governor, gauging their support.
There has been virtually none publicly.
Asked Friday at the White House if the senator should resign, President George W. Bush said nothing and walked off stage.
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.
Republican officeholders and party leaders maintained a steady drumbeat of actions and words aimed at convincing Craig to vacate his Senate seat.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Craig's conduct "unforgivable" and acknowledged that many in the rank and file believe Craig should resign.
An aide said Friday that McConnell has not talked with Craig since Wednesday, when Republican leaders asked him to step down from his senior positions on Senate committees. He complied with the request, made just one day after they called for an investigation of Craig's actions by the Senate Ethics Comittee.
"I am not gay. I never have been gay," Craig said at a Boise news conference Tuesday, the last time he has been seen in public. He denied wrongdoing and said his only mistake was pleading guilty to a reduce misdemeanor charge.
Republican officeholders and party leaders want Craig to give up his seat in the Senate as soon as possible. Their preference, according to several officials, is for a successor to be selected and ready to take the oath of office when the Senate returns from its summer vacation next week.
Republican Party officials said a statement had been drafted at party headquarters calling for Craig to resign. It was not issued, these officials said, in response to concerns that it might complicate quiet efforts under way to persuade Craig to give up his seat.
Republicans, worried about the scandal's effect on next year's election, suffered a further setback Friday when veteran Virginia Sen. John Warner announced he will retire rather than seek a sixth term. Democrats captured Virginia's other Senate seat from the Republicans in the 2006 election and have sought to line up former Gov. Mark Warner to run if the seat became open.
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.
Idaho is one of the U.S.'s most reliably Republican states. The Republicans controls the statehouse and all four seats in Congress, and Bush carried the state in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote.
Risch, the lieutenant governor, served for seven months as governor last year after former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was named interior secretary. Risch had said earlier he was interested in Craig's Senate seat if Craig did not seek re-election in 2008.
Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican, also had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Craig, but the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Craig has not resigned, said Otter would choose Risch.
"We've made no promises or guarantees to anyone," said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian. "We don't have a successor to name yet. We're not going to deal in hypotheticals."
Craig served in the House of Representatives before winning his first Senate term in 1990 and compiled a strongly conservative voting record.
On Thursday, the Minneapolis airport authorities released a tape recording of Craig's interrogation minutes after he encountered a plainclothes officer in an adjacent stall in an airport restroom.
Craig and airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia disagreed about virtually everything that had occurred _ including whether there was a piece of paper on the floor of the stall and the meaning of the senator's hand gestures.
Craig denied that he had used foot and hand gestures to signal interest in a sexual encounter.
"I'm not gay. I don't do these kinds of things," Craig told the officer. "You shouldn't be out to entrap people."
Karsnia accused Craig of lying and grew exasperated with his denials.
"Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes," Karsnia said.
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Associated Press writers David Espo and Liz Sidoti in Washington and John Miller in Boise contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-25 15:38 GMT+08:00