GOP Leaders Strip Craig Of Committee Assignments
Thursday, August 30, 2007
BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 29 -- Sen. Larry Craig went on vacation with his wife Wednesday, according to aides, as calls for his resignation intensified, Republican leaders stripped him of his committee assignments, and support in his home state appeared to be eroding.
On the day after Craig dismissed having pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct in an airport restroom as an overreaction to a mistaken arrest, and insisted that he is not gay, even longtime supporters expressed disappointment.
"I voted for him before, but I wouldn't vote for him again, because I don't believe him," said beautician Linda Anderson, 45.
In Washington, two Republican senators said their colleague should resign. "My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn't serve," Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) told CNN. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) agreed and announced that he will give to a charity $2,500 in campaign funds his office had received from Craig.
Senate GOP leaders said that Craig "agreed to comply" with their request that he step down as the ranking Republican on the Veterans' Affairs Committee and two subcommittees while the ethics committee assesses his case. The move, they said, was for "the good of the Senate."
The intensity of the Republican leaders' assault on one of their own was stunning, if for no other reason than its unusual -- un-senatorial -- nature. Several ethics lawyers and experts could not provide an example in the past two decades of one senator calling for the ethics committee to investigate a colleague.
A White House spokesman, Scott Stanzel, expressed disappointment "in the matter" and said he hopes the ethics committee will do its work swiftly, "as that would be in the best interests of the Senate and the people of Idaho."
Idahoans have elected Craig in three landslide votes. But in the Boise area Wednesday -- where a day earlier he had gone before TV cameras to declare "I am not gay" -- supporters were suddenly difficult to find.
"He should resign right now. Right now," said George Radford, 86, rapping his knuckles on the counter of the Sunrise Cafe in the nearby town of Meridian.
"Absolutely," Ed Holm said from the next stool. "Don't put his family through it."
Both men voted for Craig but said his course is clear.
"He pled guilty to a lesser charge because he knew he was guilty of the more serious charge," Radford said.