September 9th, 2007
12:01 PM ET
12 years ago

Specter urges Craig to stay and fight

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter on Sunday likened Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men's room to a motorist paying an undeserved parking ticket and reiterated his contention that the Idaho Republican should stay in the Senate and fight to overturn his conviction.

"Frequently, you get a parking ticket and the meter is broken, but you enter a guilty plea, you sign off, you pay a small check and not to fight it," Specter told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"He thought that this matter would not be publicly disclosed, and that was very foolish," Specter said. "Now look here, you have 27 years in the Congress, you have his reputation, you have his whole life on the line. I think he's entitled to his day in court. Maybe he will be convicted, but I doubt it."

Under Minnesota law, a guilty plea may be withdrawn "if there is manifest injustice, and that is defined that a plea can be withdrawn if it was not intelligently made," Specter said. "And what Senator Craig did was by no means intelligent."

The 62-year-old legislator pleaded guilty last month to disorderly conduct after his June arrest for allegedly making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

He has said he paid a $500 fine by mail to settle the case without consulting an attorney or even telling his own family because he wanted the matter "to go away."

"He's entitled to his day in court," Specter said. "It was foolish of him to enter the plea, it was equally foolish of him not to consult with an attorney."

Specter described the charge as "not a major offense."

Last week, Craig said he hoped to withdraw the plea and may change his mind about resigning by the end of the month.

In a voice mail obtained last week by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Craig told someone he addresses as "Billy" that Specter's earlier statement of support might have persuaded him to change his mind about quitting.

Billy Martin is Craig's attorney, though it was not clear whether he was the recipient of the call.

"Arlen Specter is now willing to come out in my defense, arguing that it appears by all that he knows I've been railroaded and all of that," Craig said. "Having all of that, we've reshaped my statement a little bit to say it is my intent to resign on September 30."

The chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee said Sunday she has opened a preliminary inquiry into the case to determine whether it merits a full examination.

"Any time there is a complaint made against any senator, a preliminary inquiry opens," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told CNN. "Sometimes it's disposed of quickly, sometimes it takes a while to get to the bottom of it. And then the Ethics Committee determines what then follows."

She said the committee's options include dismissing the case, censuring the senator or expelling him.

But if Craig were to resign, as some of his party leaders have urged him to do, the inquiry would be closed.

Last week, Craig gave up his committee leadership positions, and two of his advisers said he had decided not to seek re-election in 2008 even before the news of his arrest was made public.

"Larry is not fighting to hold onto power here," said his former chief of staff Gregory Casey, who insisted that the senator's main goal is to clear his name and reputation. "He is trying to figure out what he is doing for the rest of his life."

Filed under: Senate
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Red Lipstick an obscene sexist remark: arousing resentment in its lie applied with the intent to disturb the interpretation of the sense for sensual true attraction, and defeats the majority of chance at true love.

    September 9, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Public use of reddening Lipstick is Disorderly conduct.

    Red Lipstick disturbs peaceful assembly is a boisterous constant when applied in combination with blush or cheek rouge and if rubbing the bottom of a bathroom stall is offensive, so too is make-up when found outside the medium purposes of entertainment used to imitate the look of attraction on stage.

    September 9, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. Brian, Quohog, Rhode Island

    What on earth are you talking about?

    September 9, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Chip McFarlane, Greeneville, TN

    William Courtland, I like it that you're crazy.

    September 9, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  5. pl. at the UN for a while.

    That's just it. The offensive sin by a person in public life cannot be greater than wishing for "...the whole thing ...just to go away". A wish gone sour. The lawyers will fix the legal bungle. But that will not restore the honour. Facing the music from the beginning would have been a far more gallant approach.

    September 9, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. B Burnett, Madison, WI

    If Larry Craig’s guilty plea was “by no means intelligent,” as Sen. Arlen Specter claims after Craig had at least 6 weeks to consider and access to top lawyers, what is this bozo still doing in Congress after 27 years? Maybe Idaho should stop letting their potatoes vote.

    It’s not really a gay issue, and even the hypocrisy is pretty much normal for right-wingers in Congress, but Craig’s gross stupidity and cluelessness about laws, which largely explains his career as a mindless robo-vote for whomever happens to the most reactionary leader in Congress or White House at the time.

    September 9, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Brad, CA

    The guy is gay, so what, who cares? Admit it, get out and move on.

    "Larry is not fighting to hold onto power here," – "He is trying to figure out what he is doing for the rest of his life." ???

    If at his age, Craig doesn't know what he is doing for the rest of his life, he obviously doesn't know what he's BEEN doing and has been sucking from the public feed bin far too long.

    September 9, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |


    September 9, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. rob

    "Public use of reddening Lipstick is Disorderly conduct."

    -only when YOU wear it, William!

    September 9, 2007 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. New Bern, North Carolina

    Spector is a darn fool just like craig is they deserve on a nother i hope some dem runs against spector he has become to out of tuch with the pinn state i would run his support for craig all over and he would be a sure looser....this is the lowest of the low people and spector is an embarrasment to all rep right now!!!

    September 9, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Brian V. Lee, Washington, DC

    Specter is correct that Craig is "entitled to his day in court," however, unfortunately for Craig, he waived that right by pleading guilty.

    September 9, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  12. Arlington, VA

    CNN you better post me!

    Craig is a darn fool and so is his restroom buddy spector both are are about as deem witted as it gets folks! I just hope a dem runs against spector and run his support all over the place for craig spector will soon find out to mind his buisness and the affairs of his own state and not try and rescue a sinking ship!!! i mean how stupid can spector be most all rep want this guy out i guess spector sees an opening for his wide stance as well!

    September 9, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Ron Nebraska

    So even Specter says Craig did not do an intelligent thing by pleading guilty thinking it would make this go away. And this unintelligent Craig should be left to be a legislator why exactly? Overwhelming brain power? Excellent decision making? Come on, give me a reason why the guy should stay other than political.

    September 9, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. Pickles, Monaca, PA

    I hope they find more skeletons in his closet. Filthy hypocrite!

    September 10, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  15. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI Canada

    William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario
    RE: Red Lipstick

    Could you please refrain from making such mindless, nonsensible comments.

    You are tainting the inherent, well bred, intelligence of Canadians.

    Although I respect your right and priviledge to voice your opinions, may I suggest that your comments might be more welcome and received on the Miss Canada Teen website.

    Thank you in advance for giving my concerns your utmost consideration and attention.

    September 10, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Ron Nebraska

    So something in the air up there in Canada or what, eh?

    September 11, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |