September 6th, 2007
08:59 AM ET
11 years ago

GOP senators hold 'spirited' discussion on Craig

GOP senators held a closed-door discussion on Sen. Craig Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican senators held what one participant called a "passionate" and "spirited" closed-door discussion Wednesday afternoon about how their leaders responded to the sex scandal involving their colleague Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, CNN has learned.

At least three senators complained their leaders "rushed to judgment" while others defended the leaders for quickly pulling their support from the disgraced senator, according to one Republican senator in the room and two GOP aides familiar with the meeting.

"We had to discuss it," the senator said.

Sen. Ted. Stevens of Alaska, whose home was recently raided as part of a federal corruption probe, stood up to say it's wrong to prejudge these matters.

He was joined by Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming, who also "wagged their finger" at the leadership, in the words of one of the aides. (Related: Craig may not resign)

But many more senators stood to defend the leaders, even greeting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky with applause when he was introduced to discuss the topic at the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Capitol.

"A couple of people had differences of opinion with leadership but the overwhelming number who stood up supported the leaders," the leadership aide said.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, whose surprise call over the weekend for Craig to withdraw his guilty plea and fight to save his seat was key to Craig reconsidering his resignation, also addressed the meeting - which included Vice President Dick Cheney, who regularly attends the lunch.

Specter refused to say what he told his colleagues, but of the aides said he was not critical of the leadership.

Specter, hounded all day by reporters, has declined repeatedly to comment further on the Craig case.

One GOP leadership aide said Specter may be "chagrined" by what he started.

- CNN's Ted Barrett and Dana Bash

Filed under: Larry Craig
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Mary D.: NYC

    Good point about the bath house. Why didn't Craig just do that in the first place? Or was he hoping to get caught? I could less if he likes sex with men, but for a "pro-family" leader he should know that there are children in public restrooms. Or maybe he was hoping to flash some of them as well? What a sicko!

    September 6, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. Citizen Mother

    Vitter, Stevens, Craig: disgusting hypocrites hiding behind the banner of SECURITY CHRISTIANITY PATRIOTISM while thousands of people are blown to bits every day in Iraq (a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and now serves as a haven for al-Quaeda recruits).

    Most Democrats don't impress me much, but most Republicans, including those who have let their party go to hell in the name of CHRISTIANITY, make me sick.

    September 6, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Bobby, Richmond, Ky.

    "Bedfellows" is sooo anachronistic. Stallmates is the new in-word, as in "Politics makes for strange stallmates." (Is that redundant?)

    September 6, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Willy, Paramount, CA>

    Let's not forget that Mike Roger's website ( will soon announce that Mitch is also a closeted gay man.
    For months, people didn't trust his word, but it's come to pass that he was telling the truth!

    September 6, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. John C Marietta, GA

    Why not simply say he has suffered enough and have Bush Pardon him? Guilt has never been an issue with the Republican party!

    September 6, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Cindy, Moscow, Idaho

    What the Republican party seems to completely forget is that Senator Craig is Idaho's senator, not theirs. This whole thing should be between the senator and the people of Idaho. How dare the Republican Party tell Idahoans who their representative will (or won't) be! If Idahoans want him to finish his term, then the GOP should just have to deal with it. The GOP is always yapping about state's rights. It's our right to force/vote him out, not theirs.

    September 6, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. Tom, St Paul, MN

    This guy doesn't have a friend in the world. The liberals revile him because he's a hippocrite and the conservatives hate him because he is gay.

    September 6, 2007 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Republicans are eager to get this guy out as quickly as possible. Because, they don't want this guy to get media coverage all the time resulting in the loss of their conservative and family value base. Barring Jefferson from Louisiana, all the corruption and sex scandals are dominated by republicans for the past 6 years. And these GOP congressmen are scared to death to get caught into these stories. Anytime in 2008 election these hypocrites talk about family values, pictures of Craig, Vitter, and Delay would show up.

    September 6, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Old lefty, Covington, KY

    Hall of Fame pitcher Bunning coming to the defense of a switch- hitter?

    What else is going to happen?

    September 6, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. kfly

    Someone mentioned to Craig that after all that blindly voting the party line for so many years, they sure were just willing to kick him into the trash without so much as a thank you.

    I'm sure he knows the guilty plea won't be reversed, but he'll get some tasty revenge by dragging it out in the media and embarrasing those same republicans that abandoned him. I mean he's gotta be pissed about the light and cordial treatment of Vitter compared to how his buddies treated him.

    September 6, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. goofticket

    A blogger in Madison Wi summed it up best.

    Senator Tappy Toes McWidestance

    September 6, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. amandavirginia, Michiana, Indiana

    "This guy doesn't have a friend in the world."

    Maybe our Dear Leader can loan him Barney?!–oops, no, he may find he needs him because "This guy doesn't have a friend in the world."

    September 6, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. K Martin

    Two words to trump Larry Craig...BOB ALLEN!!!! Google his public park $20 gay oral sex arrest. Why no word on BOB ALLEN (R)?

    From the Orlando Sentinel..."Allen was arrested outside the men's restroom at a Titusville park after offering to perform a sex act on a plainclothes police officer, authorities said. He was later released after posting $500 bail.

    Titusville Officer Danny Kavanaugh, who was staking out a nearby condo hoping to catch a burglar, said Allen approached him in the men's bathroom at Veterans Memorial Park about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

    In an arrest affidavit, Kavanaugh said he had washed his hands and, finding the sink's paper-towel dispenser empty, had walked into a stall for the disabled to dry his hands. Allen first peeked over the door and then stepped inside, he said.

    Allen proposed the two go across a nearby bridge because "it's quiet over there" and he would perform a sex act on the officer for $20, the affidavit said. They walked to Allen's car, where the officer identified himself and arrested Allen."

    September 6, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  14. Shawn, Zillah, WA

    I am so tired of hearing about Sen. Craig. The only people that should be deciding what happens to him are the people of the State of Idaho.

    September 6, 2007 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  15. Russ Baltimore Md

    Get this looser out of the news and move forward. No one cares...

    September 7, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  16. O. Echevarria, New York City, New York

    If Sen. Craig in court admitted to this type of activity, than he should be shunned and thrown out of the party or have calls for his resignation. This type of behaviour does not belong or deserve to represent their constituents. Truly appalling that anyone would support this man politically after being admitting to lewd conduct. What does this tell our younger generation? That it is okay to perform these types of activities and only get a slap on a wrist? Truly disgusting and deplorable.

    September 7, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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