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. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    THOMAS BILLIS las vegas nv:

    Absolutely terrific point, I'm a proud Dem, and I support Craig to stay in office. Frankly, his explanation for his behavior in the bathroom is a bit shaky. However, I don't think that his actions alone warrant an arrest. In other words, they arrested him for actions that MIGHT be indicative of soliciting sex, but you can't assume that somebody is intending to solicit sex until actual money is exchanged

    October 17, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. Rick Varner Pittsburgh Pa

    The reason Republicans want Craig to leave quickly has nothing to do with morals or values. It's all about saving their own necks. The supposed party of "Jesus"–what would Jesus do in this case? "He who is without sin may cast the first stone or don't mention the speck in your brother's eye when you have a log in your own." And to Craig, he would probably say " you're forgiven–go to your wife+ family and ask for their forgiveness. Support legalizing gay marriage .I'll be turning water to wine there as I would at any hetero marriage. And above all, show mercy as I have shown mercy to you.Especially to the least of these ,children and others without health insurance. Spend more on SCHIP; it's a good program.
    To the legalistic, mean-spirited Republicans, he would say–"Woe to you the pharisees".

    October 17, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  3. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Since I am not a Republican I would be happy to see Senator Craig stay.

    But am I missing something? Did they legalize prostitution in Washington while I was sleeping? If they didn't, then Senator Vitter is self-admittedly also guilty of a crime. He just hasn't been convicted in a court of law.

    I guess to most Republicans extra-marital sex is a crime if it is with a man, but just a sin if it is with a woman, even if she is a prostitute.

    What will those clever Republicans think of next?

    October 17, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  4. John Levy, Big Bear Lake CA

    "This is like Bill Clintons impeachment..."

    "Those of us who thought Bill Clinton was getting railroaded owe to our consciences to maintain consistency."

    Posted By THOMAS BILLIS las vegas nv :

    Thomas; while it appears you and I are on the same side of the political spectrum, I'm afraid you have totally missed the point. Larry Craig should not be pushed into resigning because he solicited sex with an undercover cop in a public restroom. He should not be pushed into resigning if he is indeed gay. He should not be pushed into resigning even because he pleaded guilty. HE SHOULD BE PUSHED INTO RESIGNING BECAUSE OF THE HYPOCRISY. He has spent most of his legislative career bashing gay people and it turns out he most likely is one himself.

    October 17, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  5. Johnbo, Seattle, WA

    Looks like Sen. John Ensign's firm stance about Craig leaving the Senate is no match for Craig's determined "wide stance". Too bad for the Re-PUBE-licans. Watch your back in the Senate mens room.

    They're stuck with a closeted gay Senator in denial – kind of like the whole Re-PUBE-lican party is in denial about their manipulation of the gullible rubes on the right with "family values" and their denial of the rampant corruption they've been responsible for from allowing special interests to write whole sections of laws – for a price of course – to the stunning lack of oversight of the Bush Administration from wire tapping to contractor fraud.

    Makes you wonder what the GOP – the Gay Old Party – will come up with next.

    October 17, 2007 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  6. DallasNE, Omaha NE

    And I read this article I couldn't help but think what a mainstream Republican Sen. Larry Craig is. Why then is Sen. Ensign being so mean to Craig. Craig has not yet exhausted his appeals, so what is the hurry. What happens if Craig is successful on appeal. He can't get his seat in the Senate back.

    Oh, it's not about justice. Only about the 2008 election. Thanks for making that crystal clear Sen. Ensign.

    October 17, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  7. Charles in Utah

    Senator Craig may very well be innocent - and he may very well not. I don't really care. He should take the high road, realize that he isn't a self-serving liar like Bill Clinton was, willing to cause division and chaos for the sake of his own ego, and forfeit his office gracefully for the good of all concerned.

    October 17, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  8. Shakespeare, Stratford-on-Avon

    If all the closeted homosexual republicans came out and admitted to what they are, I think it would help their poll numbers, not hurt them. Only the hardcore whacko christians are hung up about sexual preference. A small minority.

    October 18, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  9. PJ Boise ID

    People in other states rejoice, Idaho is losing their earmarks (aka, porkbarrel spending). As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committe, Craig has "earmarked" more dollars for Idaho than any Senator in recent history. It's only fair that one of the smallest states (population wise) gets a share of this BS, and he's the man to lead us to it.

    October 18, 2007 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  10. John Crandell, Sacramento, Ca.

    So how many Republicans does it take to screw in a light bulb?


    They don't screw in light bulbs, they screw in the head.

    October 18, 2007 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  11. Eric Omaha Nebraska

    It's been my distinct pleasure watching the republican ship sink. Your bigotry is more embarrassing than your failed policies.


    October 18, 2007 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  12. Dale, Oakland, CA

    This guy has to be the all-time KING of flip-floppers. "I'm guilty" "No I'm not" "I'll resign" "I'll resign only if I can't get this worked out" "No I'm not resigning" "But I will retire later" yah right. This guy has a huge problem telling the truth or meaning what he says.

    October 18, 2007 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  13. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Another excellent point, could not have said it better, Thanks

    October 18, 2007 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  14. Pete, Westminster, California

    Gay page scandals, bathroom sex, prostitutes, BIG money scandals, violence and war, the curtailment of our freedoms - that these things so characterize the Republican party today should tell all you "values voters" that political parties are about power not "values." And Republicans have been in power far too long. Put your hopes in the folks who offer you simple answers to life's complex moral problems, and you're just being suckered by demagogues who will abuse your trust every time.

    October 18, 2007 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  15. Roy Jones Jr

    CNN tellin it like it is

    October 18, 2007 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  16. Glen, Dallas, Texas

    As a gay American and a Democrat, I am all for Senator Craig to remain in his position. I think he might benefit from the experience of what discrimination feels like and what it feels like to be shunned as a person who is gay. No eye contact from your collegues, or being ostrasized by old friends, or being told you are not wanted around here so LEAVE! Yea.. I think he should get a little taste of the discrimination he imposes on the many other law abiding gay citizens in America. In all of his pleading of innocence, I find it interesting that his lack of consideration for the Senate and his own party and his constituents, is as self serving as the solicition of cheap sex in an airport bathroom from another man and still not call your self gay. Senator? Gaydar has picked up your signal in the past. This is not the first time at the rodeo for you sir. So please.. stick around Senator.. see what it feels like to be treated like a second class citizen.

    October 18, 2007 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  17. Claude, Vinton, La

    At first I was amazed that the Repulicans would want Craig to resign for moral and ethical reasons, but not ask David Vitter to resign, then I relized that the Governer of Craig's state is a Republican and the Louisiana Governer is a Democrat. Republican double standards for Political gain once again. More Disgusting than the actions of the Senators in Question...

    October 18, 2007 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  18. J Ewing, Pittsburgh PA

    So, a "serious sin" with a Washington prostitute doesn't break any laws??
    Give me a break.

    October 18, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  19. William Sweet, Nashville, TN

    Someday we will all live in love and peace and the hypocritical manipulative media and the lying politicians that use this media will be considered part of America's "dark ages". This new world could begin by someone like Larry Craig coming out and saying "yes I did it and it is because I allowed small minded bigots and the media to define who I am. I am gay, I am divorcing my wife, and I am becoming the liberal democrat I was meant to be had I not been born in Idaho."

    October 18, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  20. Jeff Arlington, Virginia

    The Republican stance on SenatorCraig is pure politics because they still defend Senator Vitter. Vitter admitted to engaging a prostitute, likely on several occasions. His admissions are much worse than anything Craig admitted to.

    Prostitution is not simply a crime but it is a crime that supports other criminal activities. Prostitution has long been a big money making venture for organized crime. Its run by the same people and organizations that distribute narcotics. The people who run these organizations are responsible for much of the violent crime in our country. By engaging prostitutes, Senator Vitter is supporting violent crime in our nation.

    Senator Craig did nothing of the sort. Senator Vitter's wrong doings cause much greater harm to our nation than Senator Craig. If Craig must go, so should Vitter.

    October 18, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  21. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    It is hypocritical to warmly forgive David Vitter and to ask Craig to resign. If the "amoral" behavior is the problem, they should BOTH go. Alas, it's just another symptom of the bigotry and homophobia of the republican party. Please America, throw them ALL out.

    October 18, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  22. jimmy dunn conshohocken,pa

    sen craig thinks he is DIFFERENT and loves playing word games.guilty is GUILTY,I'm betting he stays because the senate is powerless to boot him


    October 18, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. Austin Rozzell

    Republicans ( half wit, war mongering, destroyers of the bill of rights and the constitution, gay hating cowards, Ann coulter liking and over all Christian right child molesting serial killers)
    Turned their back on Craig but they are used to doing the very same to their gay children. So I think it is very fitting that he is causing them such pain. They DESERVE EVERYTHING done to their evil party. May the Republican Party fall to the depth of hell reserved just for them.
    I don’t hide behind some may up name or anonymous
    My Name is Austin Rozzell and I approve of this message.

    October 18, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Glen, Boston, MA

    It's funny how little middle America understands about DC. Having worked in the political machine, I learned very quickly that there is no such thing as morality or ethics in Washington. When a Democrat gets outraged at a Republican for some racially insensitive comment, it's not because they care about offended some minority group. It's a power grab by the Dems. When Republicans lynched Clinton's presidency for inappropriate sexual behavior, it had nothing to do with morality. It was a power grab to knock a president down whose policies threatened to empower the poor and destabilize the status quo. Far, far more unethical behavior goes on every day across the political spectrum.

    So, when Republicans want to knock Craig out of their party, it has nothing to do with a stand against immorality. It is because he's a political liability.

    October 18, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. Richard Orlando, FL

    Pixie, good post—thank you for your comments.

    The Republican double standard here is astounding, to the point of absurdity. Sen. Ensign and his hypocritical colleagues think Craig should leave but conveniently overlook Vitter's illegal indiscretions, since it happened while he was a member of the House. Forget the fact that he was still a lawmaker at the time (minor technicality). Give me a break. If that is their definition of "principle", it is no wonder I changed affiliations. I’m sorry to admit that I was ever a Republican, considering what a farce and national shame that party has become.

    October 18, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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