September 1st, 2007
10:10 AM ET
14 years ago

Craig resigns Senate seat

Craig resigned his Senate seat effective September 30.

BOISE, Idaho (CNN) - With the man who will appoint his successor standing behind him, Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho said Saturday he will leave Congress where he has served for nearly three decades.

"It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate effective September 30th. In doing so ... I hope to allow a smooth and orderly transition of my loyal staff and for the person appointed to take my place," Craig said in a brief statement.

A cheer went up in the crowd after he said he would resign, but there also were political supporters and family members nearby.

He acknowledged several political leaders at the news conference, including Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, who will appoint an interim replacement for Craig who will serve until the 2008 election.

"To have the governor standing behind me as he always has, his tremendous strength for me .... is tremendously humbling," Craig said. "For any public official at this moment in time to be standing with Larry Craig is, in itself, a humbling experience."

Also standing with Craig were his wife, Suzanne, and two of their three children, and other politicians.

Craig was arrested in a restroom in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in the next stall. He initially denied the accusation, according to an audiotape released by police, but on Aug. 8 he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said after the announcement, "Senator Larry Craig made a difficult decision, but the right one. It is my hope he will be remembered not for this, but for his three decades of dedicated public service."

One GOP source with knowledge of the situation told CNN's Dana Bash late this week that the Republican National Committee decided against calling for Craig's resignation after top party leaders received indications that Craig himself was close to making a choice.

A number of Idaho Republicans are said to be interested in running for Craig's seat, including Lt. Gov. James Risch, considered a front-runner; U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, and former governor and interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

At least three key Republicans in Congress had called for Craig's resignation while others have condemned his alleged actions while stopping short of a call for him to step down.

The 62-year-old Craig agreed this week to step down from leadership posts on Senate committees while the Senate Ethics Committee investigates the incident.

A Senate Republican leadership aide said one of the things the Ethics Committee was poised to examine was the arresting officer's statement that Craig produced a business card identifying himself as a U.S. senator after his arrest and said, "What do you think about that?"

Craig was elected to the Senate in 1990, and had been weighing whether to run for his fourth term next year. He previously served in the U.S. House.

Filed under: Larry Craig
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. David, Salinas, CA

    Much as I hated his hypocrisy and his voting record, I really feel sorry for Senator Craig. He plead guilty to misdemeanor footsie and it destroyed his life. That doesn’t seem like justice to me.

    September 1, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Men who do what he has done to himself, his family, his party and his profession draw no croc tears from me. Trying to lawyer his way out of bad judgment only confirms it, unless he is going to claim a psychiatric impairment. Either way, we don't want guys with such judgment or impairment in his position.

    September 1, 2007 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  3. Mark, Minneapolis, MN

    Larry Craig chooses to run with the wolf pack his entire career – he slips and falls and they have at him. I have little sympathy. But what about David Vitter and his Madam? Where is the outrage over this?

    September 1, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  4. Ian

    He wasn't destroyed but by his crime but by his continuing dishonesty about it and the longstanding hypocrisy it exposed.

    September 1, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. Allie Cates Columbus Ohio

    this is very strange where their any other witnesses? someone wanted something he was in the way, what happened to THE COURT OF LAW? I smell a lie p.s who found him guilty?

    September 1, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  6. Kevin, Newport Beach CA

    Throw the predator-senator in jail!

    September 1, 2007 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  7. Leif B, Miami Beach, FL

    The guilty plea he entered was part of a plea bargain. His arresting charge was greater. The fact that he plead guilty to the lesser charge shows that he wanted to "make it go away". I'm glad his plan backfired.

    September 2, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  8. Ryan, Provo,UT

    I agree David. I'm not a fan of his politics and all but if you read the transcripts of his interviews he was really being pressured hard to just plead guilty and be done with it. I mean he bumps someone's foot, he reaches his hand under a stall, and his 30-year career is over. Its kind of sad. I really wish we'd stop trying these people in the media.

    September 2, 2007 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  9. Pam Dallas TX

    It wasn't the crime that did him in. Properly handled, he probably could have survived it EXCEPT, it exposed him as a hypocrite. And then there was the completely botched cover-up that he is still trying to work that eroded whatever little credibility he had left.

    September 2, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  10. Steve Lawton, Ok

    Well, hate to say this but this but was this man judged by a TRUE Judge, no but allot of Judges. This reminds of a similar Story in the bible, where Jesus saw a woman running down the street by him and a crowd of people where running after her. Jesus, asked them why this was. They told him that she was a whore, and "their" law said that she should be stoned to death! We, all know what Jesus had to say to that crowd, right?! "You, who is without Sin, cast the first stone! Crap, this story about Larry Craig is dumb, I saw allot of head-hunters on the news, putting him down, just to be on the news, true? true. What the news reports see is money, and revisionisms like, See what I did, wow ain't I great! Also, they are pushing him into a fault that is not his.. When I ask a woman for a date I would not tap my foot on the floor ah, ha, ha. I think the gays do this to to ask, so, these witch hunters that say that gays taping their feet that this is the way that the gays act? I ask these people, is this the way that they act and do to get their dates, he he! God, this is why those non believers of God want to rule over others! I pray for the USA as we all are lier, as the states where founded on God, and we have on our money, In God We Trust. So, I say that everyone is as a lier!

    September 2, 2007 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  11. Sheri Springdale AR

    sooner or later lies will catch up with you. his footsie as it was listed could have ended in a sexual encounter in a public place. So he is not gay; he broke his wedding vows or at the very least attempted too. He was savvy enough to understand his plea he just thought it would not see the light of day..... Goodbye and Good Riddence

    September 2, 2007 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  12. Chuck Ladouceur Trenton Ontario Canada

    Only in America where the LAW IS NOT THE LAW. Are all who run for office in the US, brain dead? Why is it that after they are caught in a lie do they plead innocent then when tough get going, they all resign. Now we just need to wait for the liers of all liers to resign Bush and Chainey.

    September 2, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Randy Hurst San Francisco, California 94121

    Does his seat in the Senate resemble his seat in the airport ? Perhaps it is all a matter of mistaken identity.

    September 2, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Beto, Seattle WA

    Why does this headline read "Craig Resigns Senate seat?" He did not resign, but announced he intends to resign. Let's wait until he's actually resigned before adding to the smear tactics. CNN is just like all the rest of the media, slinging & spreading the mud for the sake of sensationalism. I'll still follow the events of the day on CNN but don't think I do so because you're the better source of news. You're just one of the sources, but just like my newspaper subscription, I don't "need" to read it.

    September 2, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    I agree with David, Salinas Ca and Ryan, Provo Utah.

    I can't comment on Craig's service, morals or ethics as a Senator. However, I also feel the transcripts and audio tape on his interview clearly showed he was being pressured to plead guilty. I also felt they portrayed Craig as a man who was energetically trying to prove his innocence against a formidable opponent, the police officer. I felt Craig's statements to the officer carried a great deal of credibility. Especially his statement that his left hand bearing his wedding ring was positioned on the opposite side of the stall from the officer. Craig would have had to made a 180 degree turn in his stall to put his left hand underneath for the officer to view. Had he done this, his feet would have also made a 180 degree turn. Since the officer described his foot movements in his footsie statement, it is unlikely he would have missed a 180 degree turn.

    In short, I belive one must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In Craig's situation there is no concrete evidence. The man has been condemned, his political profession and reputation ruined solely on a report given by the police officer. This is not Justice.

    September 3, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |