September 6th, 2007
08:59 AM ET
10 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. Elvis Dingeldein

    In related news, Embattled superheterosexual Sen. Larry “Wide-Stance” Craig added yet another retraction to his growing litany of totally plausible reversals by announcing today that he would be suing his own bowels and digestive system for unfairly entrapping him in a restroom under false pretenses. In a brief leaked to the press by his legal team, Craig is now suggesting that he only had to “make a little wee-wee” and that his bowels unfairly lured him into a bathroom stall by faking the need to evacuate.

    “I wouldn’t put myself in that position,” Craig told The Daily in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I don’t do these kinds of things, sitting on disgusting toilets to move my bowels. I’ve never done that. And if I did, it wouldn’t be in an airport toilet in Minneapolis.”

    Craig is expected to resign his seat in the Senate by 10:00 p.m. tonight, then demand it back by 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

    September 5, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  2. Mrs. America

    Reminds me of that Mark Karr person-demands attention no matter how mentally ill it makes him look. I truly believe this man needs help and that maybe the government should do like NASA, rethink their mental health standards. Oh, that's right. Government leaves it up to us to decide if our public officials are fit to serve. Oh, my.

    September 5, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Tim, Fargo ND

    He plead guilty... He was judged in a court of law..... What do they want to wait for.... Do-overs don't count once someone is 10 years old.

    September 5, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. Snyder, Seattle, WA

    "Wagged their finger" indeed!

    September 5, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. John, Ca.

    We are all behind you, Larry. Well, not literally. You stand your ground, wide stance and all, and don't give an inch, or take it!

    We are pulling for you, you Hetro-Stud!

    September 5, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Craig doesn't have nearly enough support among his GOP colleagues to remain an effective Senator for the citizens who elected him, even if he avoids ethics charges. His criminal guilty plea may have been unwise but the court is unlikely to be allow it to be withdrawn.

    September 5, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. Adam Nguyen Glendale, Arizona

    One of the loudest mouths in 1999 impeachment of former president Clinton was Mr. Craig. What is wrong with Mr. Craig now?

    September 5, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    Enter that den of snakes and backstabbers at your own peril. The meeting of the Repubican leadership would not be a place for the faint of heart.

    September 5, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Mike, Corpus Christi TX

    Hey Craig! YOU'RE A VERY VERY NAUTY NASTY BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BACK AT YA!!!!!!!!

    September 6, 2007 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  10. Joquin Gutierrez

    This is sad. The only reason the GOP rank and file are slow to ask for Craig's head, is that a good portion of them have their own skeletons in the closet (as do probably an equal portion of Democrats).

    Corruption needs to be stamped out at all levels of government. Including that of toilet cruisers like Larry Craig.

    September 6, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. roger, conway sc

    GOSH can you imagine a bunch of stiff christian right conservatives trying to talk about a fellow collegue who also is a christian right conservative who is entangled in a "gay" bathroom scene...if we only knew the real truth about these hypocrites even the ones that say the leadership acted too rapidly...the christian right is suffering for using the GOP to put out their agenda and the GOP is suffering for using the christian right to get their votes they do not seem to be strange BEDFELLOWS to me no pun intended...they are all hypocrites by the way the meeting had the presence of the biggest hypogrite of them all VP Dick Cheney

    September 6, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. R Roger Beck, Scottsdale, AZ

    Please, Larry, whatever you do, DON'T step down! The longer you stay up and visible, the more Repugnicans you will drag down with you in '08. With any luck, you should also be able to take down McConnell and Specter. Wow! A THREE-FER!!!!!!!!!

    September 6, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Glenn SLC, UT

    Closed door meetings about Craigs fate? That is how Craig did all his political maneuvering particular when it came to environmental, energy, and natural resources issues. Although no political meetings should be closed door, I don't mind him getting a taste of his own medicine.

    September 6, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. So Sad, Wilmington, DE

    It's simply astounding how much time they can find to defend their "decider", their corporate sponsors, each other, their "leaders", fund raising and gambits versus the time they can find to spend taking care of the citizens they represent and constitution that is supposed to protect the "government of the people"

    September 6, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. Jim Terrell, Tx

    Whose side did David Vitter come down on?

    September 6, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Beth Alexander, Santa Fe, NM

    The fact that Craig is gay and has voted against gay rights issues is incredibly hypocritical. How dare he use an anti-gay stance to maintain a position of power which allows him to engage in gay behavior. I wonder if this is what Jesus had in mind.

    September 6, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. dotmafia

    How long does it take Americans to wake up from their collective haze, and realize that their elected officials and so-called "administration" simply don't care. They will do whatever is necessary to deny corruption or criminal action, and avoid accountability and responsibility. They and their special interest groups they represent are the reason why America is fast going the way of Rome.

    September 6, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. RB

    They're engaged in damage control, nothing more.

    Craig has them running for the remaining lifeboats, except most are gone because of what Bush has already done to the GOP.

    September 6, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. Sue Filutze, Idaho Falls, Id.

    Oh, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall! I can just hear Stevens telling them, not to jump to conclusions! Being one of the bigger crooks in the room. I'm sure the other secretly GAY Senators were all for throwing the bum out. He is in fact making it tricky for the rest of them. But one by one, I believe their little secrets will be out. Funny, the GOPERS are all about "Family Values" one just wonders whose family their talking about?

    September 6, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote. What I say here is not meant to support any party.

    Caught in the act; hypocrite; guilty by his own admission; split opinions; breached code of ethics; soliciting gay sex; judged by public opinion!

    I am not convinced anymore. Let the lawyers spin the law and the commentators spin the politics. In the meantime Mr Craig should retract his own decision to resign. Replace 'resignation' with 'reevaluation', and stay on to face the "ethics" musical tune. That's right Mr Craig, you are no more guilty than everyone else.

    September 6, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. Bob

    The Republicrites, once again, are caught in their own sticky web.

    September 6, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. andrew s rostolder hillsdale nj

    i wonder who is going to get it in the "end" lol....when all is said and done.... probably us, the voters

    September 6, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. donkey phlia pa

    he's a republican

    he pleaded guilty

    he must be innocent

    September 6, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. KYJurisDoctor, BgKY

    Does anyone wonder why the Republican Party is faltering. MUCHO KUDOS for leaders like Mitch McConnell.

    September 6, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. Talbott, Tuscumbia, Alabama

    Please, Senator Bathroom Stall (R-Misdemeanor), stay in office. Embarrass the good people of Idaho that you represent with your lies and deceit, and serve as a walking banner for the GOP. Americans need creeps like you, David Vitter, and others as negative examples of your party's hypocrisy and hatefulness. And by the way, if you crave anonymous gay sex so much, just go a bathhouse next time. They're not free like bathrooms, but you Republicans are pro-market anyways, and they're not illegal. You can exhibit your wide stance and pick up toilet tissue all you want.

    September 6, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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