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Impeachment Is So Yesterday for Clinton, Rogan
The Craig Courtship
In another political courtship, Sen. Larry Craig (Idaho) is receiving attention from Republican colleagues, three months after he first promised to quit.
Ever since Craig's former singing partner, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), announced on Monday that he will resign next month, senators have been calling colleagues for support in the secret-ballot leadership elections, which will be held next Thursday. They've even been calling Craig, the man they desperately wanted gone.
"He's a sitting senator until otherwise. Absolutely we've reached out to him," said a senior aide for one of the half a dozen Republicans angling for votes in leadership races. "We're not leaving any stones unturned."
And rightly so. The last two contested Republican leadership races, including Lott's victorious bid for minority whip in autumn 2006, were decided by a single vote.
Of the candidates for conference chairman, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) appears to be in the worst position to receive Craig's vote. Hutchison, after all, is part of the leadership, as policy committee chairman. She joined a unified leadership team in late August, after revelations that Craig had been arrested for disorderly conduct in a Minnesota airport restroom sting, that called for a still-ongoing ethics committee investigation into Craig's behavior and demanded that he surrender his leadership positions on three legislative committees.
Another candidate, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), benefited most from Craig's fall. He took over as top Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
So the leading candidate for Craig's support appears to be Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). On the day Craig stunned lawmakers by returning to the chamber, Alexander told us that he happily greeted his colleague. "I shook his hand and said hello to him," Alexander said on Sept. 18.
Don't expect anyone to brag about Craig's support. As an aide for another leadership aspirant put it, Craig is about the "101st" most-sought-after Republican when it comes to generating support from other senators.
Then again, if any of the races come down to one vote, Craig may have the last laugh.
No Card for Hagel
Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), who has made a reputation as a go-to Republican for an anti-White House quote, may have outdone himself yesterday in an address before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Hagel, who considered running for the GOP presidential nomination as an antiwar candidate, told the foreign policy experts that he would give the Bush administration "the lowest grade of any I've known."
"I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen or ever read about," Hagel said, according to our colleague Robert Kaiser, who attended the speech. In case his audience didn't get the point, Hagel also said: "They have failed the country."
Then Hagel went to dinner with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the recently turned independent who has toyed with the idea of a Bloomberg-Hagel presidential ticket.