Senate Republicans look like they're split on calling for his resignation. And if Senator John Ensign is one of just a handful calling for him to leave, there's no reason for him to go:
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) on Thursday called for Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to honor his original resignation speech and his personal commitment to Republicans that he would resign if the judge did not vitiate his guilty plea.So John Ensign says he should quit, Arlen Specter and Mike Crapo say he should stay, and Mitch McConnell won't take a stand yet. According to The Hill, Trent Lott says essentially the same thing. If you're Larry Craig, do you feel any more uncomfortable than you did yesterday? I don't think so. If you're Craig, and you don't see 15 or 20 colleagues saying you should quit, there's no way you resign.
“He gave us his word that he would resign. ... I’m calling on Sen. Craig to keep his word,” said Ensign. “If he loves his party, and he loves the Senate, the honorable thing to do is to resign...”
However, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) applauded his home-state colleague’s decision, saying he expected the Senate Ethics Committee to delay any probe until after Craig has exhausted his opportunities to appeal the judge’s ruling today.
“Like all citizens of this country, he has the right to vigorously defend his case,” said Crapo. “I look forward to working with him in the Senate...”
But Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), an early supporter of Craig’s legal strategy, said Craig’s offense was not “moral turpitude, and it’s not a basis for leaving the Senate.”
Senate Republican leaders, however, continued to deflect questions.
“This whole matter is before the Ethics Committee. So it will be dealt with I assume by Sen. Craig and the Ethics Committee,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
And if you're not going to resign -- if you think that Senate Republicans and the people of Idaho can live with you staying in the Senate -- then why rule out running for re-election? Why not test the appetite of the American people for redemptive stories?
The filing deadline for federal races in Idaho in 2008 is in March. So if Larry Craig doesn't quit now, why wouldn't he string this along until March -- at least -- to see if it looks like he might have any chance? Sure, Craig now says that he won't seek re-election but then, he said he was going to resign until he was surprised by the degree of support he received. Want to bet he'll be surprised by the support he receives in the next few months, too?
I fear this is going to go on for a while. If Larry Craig's Republican Senate colleagues aren't comfortable with that, the better follow John Ensign's lead.
Update: Read Michelle as well.
Update II: Mickey has the quote of the day:
It looks like the only Republican who's not quitting the Senate is Larry Craig.