Update 7pm Eastern. Via the Idaho Statesman…
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will announce his career plans Saturday morning after widespread calls from fellow Republicans to resign over a men’s room sex sting, his spokesman said today.
“We haven’t quite scheduled anything, but we’re looking at doing something tomorrow,” said Craig’s spokesman Sid Smith. “We haven’t set a time or place yet.”
Dan Whiting, another Craig spokesman, said there would be an announcement Saturday but would not say whether Craig will step down.
Gov. Butch Otter already appears to have settled on a successor: Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, according to several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations.
Here’s the resignation ultimatum from the GOP.
Update 11:30am Eastern. Poll results so far…
I think the clear message to the GOP here is that the sooner Sen. Craig steps out of the spotlight, the better.
Newsbusters points out today’s NYTimes editorial supporting Craig and bashing GOP members who have called for his resignation as symbols of the “party’s intolerance” who are “demonizing homosexuality.” The NYTimes fumes that no Republican has called for Sen. David Vitter’s resignation, conveniently omitting the fact that Vitter hasn’t pleaded guilty to violating any laws.
You can’t win with these people. If the GOP leadership had embraced Craig, who do you think would be the first out of the block editorializing about Republican hypocrisy, corruption, and double standards? As I noted earlier this week on tee-vee, it ain’t who Craig is accused of playing footsie with…it’s where. The NYTimes sniffs that Craig was just “being stupid.” Try arguing that next time to a parent who takes his kid to a public restroom and is subjected to the kind of crap that the police were trying to crack down at the Minneapolis airport on June 11.
Update: Quittin’ time today?
“No wonder why we’re going down the tubes.”
That’s the very last, fitting comment on the Larry Craig police tape. Here’s the full transcript. If you haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, it’s at HA and all over the cable TV airwaves. I’ve gotten a few e-mails from readers who say the tape has changed their minds and made them more sympathetic to Craig. But as one reader e-mailed, Craig’s guilty “tell” came in the first 30 seconds of the tape. Right off the bat, Craig goes on record arguing that the police officer started it, not him:
OFFICER: All right. I know I can bring you to jail, but that’s not my goal here, okay? (inaudible)
CRAIG: Don’t do that. You. You.
OFFICER: I’m not going to bring you to jail.
CRAIG: You solicited me.
Hmmmmm. If he “didn’t do these kinds of things,” as he stated later in the tape, how did he know he was being “solicited?”
Has the tape changed your mind?
CQ Politics looks at the electoral prospects:
Idaho Republican Sen. Larry E. Craig so far has withstood the gale of controversy that has surrounded him since Monday’s revelations of his recent conviction after an incident in a Minnesota airport men’s room, resisting calls from some of his Republican congressional colleagues for him to resign his seat — and a SurveyUSA poll in which 55 percent of adult Idaho respondents said he should step down…
…Given the very personal nature of Craig’s dilemma, his problems are not likely to deeply erode the Republican Party’s typical strong advantage in next year’s Senate race if he steps aside. President Bush piled up 68 percent of the state’s vote in 2004; in the state’s most recent Senate elections, Republican Michael D. Crapo won a second term in 2004 with no Democratic challenger on the ballot and Craig in 2002 defeated Democrat Alan Blinken, a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, with 65 percent.
Speculation about possible Republican replacement candidates has swirled around two highly prominent officeholders: Mike Simpson, who is in his fifth term as representative of eastern Idaho’s 2nd District, and Jim Risch, who last year was elected for the second time as lieutenant governor after spending a brief stint as Idaho’s interim governor.
Before the Craig controversy broke, Simpson had been spreading the word that he would not run for the Senate next year. Dan Popkey, a columnist for the Idaho Statesman newspaper in Boise, wrote in an Aug. 12 column that Simpson would not run because doing so would almost certainly leave Idaho without a member on either chamber’s Appropriations Committee. Simpson, who had to climb the seniority ladder to gain a seat on House Appropriations, would be unlikely to immediately claim the Senate Appropriations seat that Craig long held.
Since then, though, Craig’s scandal — which on Wednesday forced him to give up his seat on Appropriations and other committees under pressure from the Senate Republican leadership — may have given Simpson a change of heart about next year’s Senate race.
“Rep. Simpson could hit the ground running in a way that other state-level officials couldn’t,” said Simpson spokesman Nikki Watts. “I wouldn’t even say it’s appealing. This is about Idaho being in a crisis and who can step up and help out. It’s not about what’s appealing for the congressman.” Watts added that Simpson was waiting to see how the Craig story unfolds before giving the contest more serious thought.
Risch has not been as reticent about his Senate ambitions, stating earlier this year that he would consider seeking the seat should Craig not run again.
In Washington, pressure continues to build for Craig’s resignation.