October 18th, 2007
07:40 AM ET
13 years ago

Ensign to Craig: Leave now

Watch Sen. Ensign's interview with Wolf Blitzer.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John Ensign, who chairs the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, made clear to CNN's Wolf Blitzer Wednesday he wants embattled Idaho Sen. Larry Craig to leave the Senate - immediately.

"The senator said that by the end of September, if the guilty plea was not overturned, if he was not reestablished on his seniority on committees, that he would resign," said Ensign, a Republican representing Nevada. "Neither one of those things are going to happen. I call on Sen. Craig, if he loved the Senate and his party, he would keep his word. "

Ensign also brushed aside the notion that the Idaho Republican should be given leniency, because he only pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

"This wouldn't be making the national news if it was an ordinary misdemeanor," Ensign said. "He pled guilty to something that, you know lewd behavior, that's not the behavior a United States senator should be engaged in."

Ensign also dismissed the suggestion that Craig's case is similar to that of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who has admitted to committing a "serious sin" with a Washington prostitute when he served in the House.

"First of all, he never said exactly what he did," Ensign said of Vitter. "Secondly, it happened before he got into the United States Senate, and there were no laws that were broken as far as anybody knows."

Ensign also said that Craig's continued presence in the Senate will hurt Democrats and Republicans alike.

"There's too many people that paint with a broad brush that we're all corrupt, we're all amoral," he said. "And having these kinds of things happen, whether it's a Republican or Democratic senator - we certainly have had plenty of Democratic scandals in the past - we need people who are in office who will hold themselves to a little higher standard."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Larry Craig • The Situation Room
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Henry Tucker, Ga

    THANK YOU – thank you CNN!!

    I was wondering what the latest goings-on of Larry Craig were. Wow, so the Republican Leadership isn't happy about Larry Craig? Earth-shattering news!

    My day isn't going to be "complete" until your newsroom comes up with a happy story about Hillary, a story about the "missing" Fred Thompson, and hopefully you all won't mention ANYTHING about Obama, Edwards, or any other candidates. (They ARE still candidates, right?? I have to ask since they're not really covered on CNN)

    October 17, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Sen. John Ensign's is very prudent and wise advice – Larry Craig needs to leave the Senate immediately. Enough is enough.

    October 17, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Jim, Treggtown, VA

    Republicans are mostly closet homosexuals. And that's all right with me!

    October 17, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. Dan Hawthorne

    I am very glad that someone from either party in the Senate is standing up and calling for Senator Craig to step down. As a Republican, I believe that our party is one of principle, and one of those principles is a good moral character. Sen. Craig violated that principle, and his fellow Republicans should abandon him.

    October 17, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    It's refreshing to see a politician acknowledge that both parties have scandals and all should be responsible to live up to higher moral standards. This is refreshing because I'm sick of the usual partisan drivel of blaming everything on the opposite party. I'm sure a few posters here will comment something about Bill Clinton, of course, because they are incapable of reasoning on any current issue otherwise.

    October 17, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Wait, is Obama still running? I thought Hillary was the only candidate.

    Oh wait, Obama just made 1 MILLION DOLLARS in one day from donations of under 200 dollars. Yep. He's still running.

    Oh well, back to talking about the bathroom Senator. I mean Larry Craig, not Hillary Clinton, that would just be gross.

    October 17, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. ronnie - knoxville, tn.

    People have a short attention span. The sooner he's out of the public eye, the better for the Republ party.

    October 17, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Jeff Robertson, Yellow Springs, Ohio

    Is it more disgusting that Larry Craig's GOP Senate colleagues (and Mitt Romney) abandonded him at the first sign of a gay tryst, or that they have not done so to David Vitter, clearly a regualar customer of prostitution (which is illegal, and grounds for Senate dismissal)? Does John Ensign's behavior reflect us a society, a society that tolerates straight sex perversion but not gay? Get it together GOP! Clean your whole house or let Craig finish his term!

    October 17, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  9. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    I'm sure even the senate's men's room will be joyous at Craig's departure.

    October 17, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  10. Brad, Stockton, CA

    Awww, be nice. Let him stay. Please. Let him continue to take the whole party down the toilet with him.

    October 17, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  11. Russ, NYC


    Something just occurred to me. Assuming for the moment that Sen. Craig actually was using the restroom. If so, his pants would have to be down. But if his pants were down, it would be impossible for him to spread his "stance" wide enough for his foot to touch a foot in the adjacent stall. Try it (I recommend waiting until the adjacent stall is empty). If his pants were not down, he was not in that stall to use the restroom.

    October 17, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. Nikita, Area 51, NV.

    Wow. One Senator I can be proud of. Stuck with Reid on the other hand. But Sen. Ensign gets it right, again. Niki says the same to Craig: "Leave Now!"

    October 17, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. Unnamed Anytown, USA

    Senator Larry Craig will help the Democrats the longer he stays in office. If the Republicans cannot get him to leave, Craig will only dig the hole that much deeper.

    October 17, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. Georgette Becker, Imperial Beach, CA

    I thought it was ridiculous to give Paris and Brittany so much air time. This Craig stuff tops it all. Nobody bloody cares if he's gay or not. And he's not bright enough (hence, the mess he's in) to know that nobody cares who he picks up in what bathroom. Senator Craig: You pled guilty. Whether you did anything against the law or not, you chose to do what you did then followed it up with a signed guilty plea some 6 weeks after your bathroom encounter. Get over it!!!! It's very sad how he just doesn't get it – but then again he works in Washington.

    October 17, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  15. THOMAS BILLIS las vegas nv

    This is like Bill Clintons impeachment it always sounds good to one side but hurts the whole system.I do not think Larry Craig should resign and I could not think of one issue I agree with him on.It was a misdemeanor charge and has nothing to do with his senatorial duties.His sexuality is the his own and the voters of Iowa's business.I disagree with Larry Craig on the issues not on his personal habits.Those of us who thought Bill Clinton was getting railroaded owe to our consciences to maintain consistency.To defend people we agree with is easy.To defend people we disagree with is difficult.

    October 17, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. Jeff from Jersey

    Next Craig is going to go to a rehab,say he is so sorry,say that he found God (who isn't the one who's lost by the way),write a book,go on Oprah and be a candidate for President in 2012!
    If we put all of the politicians that have broken the law in one place they'd fill up the state of Idaho.I should know.I'm from Jersey.

    October 17, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. David, Saint Joseph Missouri

    Craig has no respect for the law. He signed a paper that said he would not profess his innocense, yet now does. I dont care if he s gay, but stop being a hypocrit in the Senate. Typical the republicans will keep him there shows their hypocriacy.

    October 17, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. L. T. Words KC MO

    Gay men go to bars & the internet. "Married" closeted (Senators) go to the bathrooms for sex.

    October 17, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. CJ Richmond, VA

    Jeff Robertson, this is not about his alleged homosexual behavior. We all understand that homosexuals have the right to be homosexual. This isn't about law abiding homosexuals. It's about law breakers - about him BREAKING A LAW (whatever law it may be, because Senators should NOT break laws) and then not following through on his word about resigning.

    October 17, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    DON'T DO IT!

    Hang in there you Hetro-stud!

    If you resign people might think that you were gay or something! God forbid!!

    October 17, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    I will remember this interview and I hope you guys do as well when the sanctimonious Sen. Ensign has a sex scandal of his own.

    I particularly enjoyed this bit:

    "Ensign also dismissed the suggestion that Craig's case is similar to that of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who has admitted to committing a "serious sin" with a Washington prostitute when he served in the House.

    "First of all, he never said exactly what he did," Ensign said of Vitter. "Secondly, it happened before he got into the United States Senate, and there were no laws that were broken as far as anybody knows."

    Hmmmm committed a "serious sin" with a prostitute....why whatEVER can he possibly mean?? Certainly the embattled Sen. Vitter MUST have been talking about jaywalking...or loitering. I love the feigned ignorance, but Sen. Ensign is fooling NO ONE.

    As for Vitter not seeking the services of prostitutes while in the senate – – am I to understand that soliciting the services of prostitutes is now legal as long as you're a member of the house of representatives as opposed to the senate?? No wonder we have 5 times as many house members. I loved Blitzer's LACK OF FOLLOW-UP with that one. WTG Beard.

    The only reason republicans are hyperventilating over Craig and not Vitter is that it is convenient for them to express moral outrage at a man (especially when he might be one of teh GAY!!omg!) when there is NO POLITICAL CONSEQUENCE for doing so (Craig), but when it comes to holding fast to those same "values" when faced with the possible loss of a republican held senate seat (Vitter), well then, it's not that important, I mean, God and his wife have forgiven him, right??

    Thanks again Sen. Ensign for once again exposing the cognitive dissonance of the Republican party.

    October 17, 2007 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  22. H. J. Hayes, Camarillo, CA

    " As a Republican, I believe that our party is one of principle, and one of those principles is a good moral character."
    Go back and read recent American history, starting with Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon and continue through Larry Craig and David Vitter and then tell me that again...with a straight face.
    Trumped up charges that were never justified or proven notwithstanding, the Democrats have been ten times more upstanding and moral than the Republicans have been over the past 40 years.

    October 17, 2007 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  23. z.kazan, jax fl

    Read this earlier today. Senator Larry Craig has restroom leg syndrome. I can only wonder what brilliance is being added to Wikipedia about yet another republican with no soul. PAX

    October 17, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  24. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    Dan Hawthorne

    As a Republican, I believe that our party is one of principle, and one of those principles is a good moral character

    Dan here are some examples of the good moral character that you speak of, from politicians in the GOP. BTW, the Dems are no better.

    1. Congressman Mark Foley's abuse of teen-age Congressional pages.
    2. Bob Packwood, Senator (R-Ore.), resigned in 1995 under a threat of public senate hearings related to 10 female ex-staffers accusing him of sexual harassment.
    3. Tom DeLay -The corruption of House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, and his gang of "40 thieves" is so extensive that it takes whole web sites to cover, such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_DeLay.
    4. Bob Livingston (R-Louisiana) was about to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House until he resigned in disgrace when it was revealed that he admitted to had been involved in several adulterous affairs.
    5.Bob Barr (R-Georgia): has been married three (or is it now four) times. And at a party in 1992, Barr actually licked whipped cream off the breasts of two women, neither of them his current wife. Now that's family values!
    6. Dan Burton (R-Indiana): The Chairman of the House Government Reform & Oversight Committee. Following an expose, Burton was forced to admit that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child, a fact he denied for years.

    October 17, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  25. Dondi Yenolam, Florida

    I don't get it. Everybody is focused on the "is he gay or not question." Really, who cares?

    On the other hand, picking up perfect strangers to have sex with in a public bathroom, in an airport no less, I mean, come on ...

    Do we really want folks with so little self-respect and who obviously care so little about themselves to be in the US Senate? Charged with decisions about who should be on the Supreme Court, War and Peace, and on and on?

    I don't think so.

    He may be innocent but all signs point otherwise. The court of public opinion is not burdened by concepts like "presumption of innocence" and "beyond all reasonable doubt." With the rumors flying for years, the writings of the major Idaho newspaper, and now an arrest for facts that led Sen. Craig to plead guilty to a misdemeanor to avoid a criminal conviction, I think the burden is on him to dispel the cloud that prevents him from serving in the Senate.

    If it don't happen and happen fast, then "Good-bye, Larry Craig. And good riddance." As for all you R's out there, you family values advocates, you moral types, how bout it? Put your political pressure where your mouth has been lo these many years.

    As Charlie Brown would say, "good grief!"

    October 17, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
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