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Sen. Craig may reconsider resignation, spokesman says

  • Story Highlights
  • Craig spokesman: If cleared of a disorderly conduct charge, he may not resign
  • Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho said Saturday he would resign from the Senate
  • His resignation was to take effect September 30
  • Craig pleaded guilty in June to the charge, stemming from a restroom sex sting
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho may reconsider his resignation if he is cleared of a disorderly conduct charge to which he pleaded guilty last month, his spokesman told CNN on Tuesday.


Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, announced his resignation Saturday in Boise, Idaho.

Dan Whiting said it was still the GOP senator's intention to resign effective September 30, "however, he is fighting these charges and should he be cleared before then, he may -- I emphasize may -- not resign."

Craig announced his resignation Saturday after almost a week of speculation.

The Republican senator was arrested in a restroom in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in the next stall.

Craig denied the accusation, and is heard doing so on an audiotape released by police.

But on August 8, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

Since then, Craig has said he regrets pleading guilty and has hired legal counsel to try to get the guilty plea expunged. Video Watch Craig announce Saturday his intention to resign »

A source familiar with Craig's legal proceedings said no paperwork has been filed to change his guilty plea.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter learned of the senator's possible reconsideration while Otter was shooting a public service announcement, his spokesman, Jon Hanian said.

Otter is to choose a replacement for Craig if he leaves office.

"My boss has not been informed that there is anything that has changed since Saturday," said Hanian, who added that Otter has not decided who he would appoint to fill Craig's Senate seat.

Meanwhile, in a tape released by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Craig leaves a voice mail for a man he addresses as "Billy." Roll Call said the phone call was made Saturday morning. Whiting confirmed Craig made the phone call but would not say who "Billy" was or whether it was Craig's attorney, Billy Martin.

In the tape, Craig tells "Billy" about a phone call from Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, and that after the conversation with the senator, he plans to put the word "intend" into his resignation statement. He also encourages "Billy" to make a "bold" statement in front of cameras.

Once word of the guilty plea was made public, Craig was deluged with calls by fellow Republicans to step down.

In consultation with the Senate's GOP leadership, Craig agreed to leave his leadership posts on Senate committees while the Senate Ethics Committee investigates the incident.

On Sunday, Specter said he would like to see Craig fight the allegations against him. But on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he expected Craig's resignation to be final.

"I think the episode is over," he said. "We'll have a new senator from Idaho at some point in the next month or so, and we're going to move on."

Craig called around to some of his Republican colleagues in Washington on Tuesday to "gauge support" for a possible reconsideration of his resignation, a Senate GOP aide said. It was unclear what he was told.

Some Republican leadership aides said they did not know Craig was reconsidering and did not welcome the news.

"The people of Idaho and the rest of the country were led to believe Senator Craig would resign," one aide said. "To go back on that intent means that he will probably lose any goodwill he has built up among his colleagues. Like a fish out of water, he is gasping for his last breath of political air."

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, returned from the Senate's summer recess and made his first public comments on Craig's sudden downfall.

He suggested that Republican leaders judged Craig more harshly than they did Republican Sen. David Vitter, of Louisiana, who was recently linked to a heterosexual prostitution service.

"Everyone can see what they did with Vitter and what they did with Craig and draw their own conclusion," Reid told CNN when asked if GOP leaders had employed a "double standard."

McConnell disputed that notion, telling reporters there is a "substantial difference" between the Vitter matter, which took place before Vitter was in the Senate, and the Craig matter.

"The [Vitter] legal case was, in effect, over. And the only question was what was the attitude going to be of the Senate with regard to the admission that had been made," said McConnell.

McConnell was asked about the spate of GOP scandals in recent weeks including an FBI raid on the home of long-serving Alaskan Ted Stevens as part of a corruption probe. McConnell said most lawmakers are "honorable," but occasionally members from both parties get in trouble.


Reid disagreed.

"This is an issue the American people are looking at," Reid said. "But it's a Republican problem, a Republican Senate problem." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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