Coleman calls on Craig to resign from Senate

  • Article by: KEVIN DIAZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2007 - 11:40 PM

The Minnesota Republican's advice was seconded by others; Democrat Klobuchar wants to see the evidence.

Sen. Larry Craig
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Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

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WASHINGTON - Sen. Norm Coleman joined two other Republican legislators Wednesday calling for the resignation of embattled Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who has pleaded guilty in connection with an incident with an undercover officer in a Minneapolis airport restroom.

"Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator," the Minnesota Republican said in a terse, two-sentence statement. "He should resign."

In separate statements, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., also called on Craig to step down in light of the allegations of sexual solicitation, which came to light in news reports on Monday.

McCain, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, called Craig's behavior "disgraceful." Hoekstra said Craig "represents the Republican Party" and should go.

Craig did not comment on the calls from fellow Republicans for him to step down.

The White House, meanwhile, also expressed its disappointment in the case, though administration officials stayed out of the public debate over Craig's political future.

Democrats also have stayed out of the fray, preferring to let the facts of Craig's predicament speak for themselves.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said, "I think he's in serious trouble, but I would like to see the evidence before the ethics committee before I would call for his resignation."

The calls for Craig's resignation came as he announced he would honor the request of Senate GOP leaders to temporarily step down as the top Republican on three committees. That includes a top post on the influential Veterans Affairs Committee.

The request came Tuesday as GOP leaders called for an ethics investigation into Craig's conduct in the June 11 incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a statement Wednesday saying the decision to ask Craig to step down from his committee posts "is in the best interest of the Senate until this situation is resolved by the ethics committee."

Craig, 62, already has given up his Idaho leadership position in the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who called his behavior "disappointing."

Craig, a three-term senator, has been considering a run for a fourth term next year. On Tuesday, he told reporters in Boise that despite his guilty plea he had done nothing wrong.

Rather, he said, he "overreacted" and pleaded guilty because of the stress he was under from an Idaho newspaper investigation into previous allegations of homosexual behavior, including similar public bathroom encounters.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Hoekstra called Craig's explanations "not credible."

Kevin Diaz • 202-408-2753

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Sen. Larry Craig