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Craig press conference: Stepping down to “pursue legal options;” “I apologize for what I have caused”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 1, 2007 12:33 PM

Update: Here’s the vid. Scroll down for more comment.

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craigpress.jpg

Quick and scripted, here a few rough notes on Larry Craig’s press conference, just ended:

“I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry. I have little control over what people choose to believe…to pursue my legal options as I continue to serve Idaho, would be an unwanted distraction from my job and my colleagues…These are times of war…with sadness and deep regret…I announce that is my intent to resign effective September 30.

(Breakout of applause.)

…I apologize for being unable to serve out a term to which I have been elected…I hope you do not regret the confidence you have placed in me all these years…”

Large crowd of supporters surrounded him on a hilltop. He was accompanied by his wife. Gov. Butch Otter also attended alongside Craig.

When Craig announced his intent to resign, Democrat detractors in the audience cheered and hollered.

WaPo:

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig resigned Saturday over a men’s room sex sting, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about a scandal dimming their election prospects.

“I apologize for what I have caused,” Craig said.

Craig’s resignation completed a stunning downfall that began Monday with the disclosure that he had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge following his arrest during a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men’s room.

Although leading members of his own party had called for him to step down, Craig steadfastly resisted resigning for days, contending that he had done nothing wrong and that his only
mistake was pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Idaho Statesman reports on other public officials who came out to support Craig:

Sen. Larry Craig, surrounded by his family, Gov. Butch Otter, State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna and Congressman Bill Sali, resigned from the U.S. Senate, effective Sept. 30.

He thanked his family for supporting him, and thanked Idahoans for letting him serve as senator. “I am grateful for the opportunity they have given me.”

“What is best of Idaho has always been the focus of my efforts,” Craig said. He said pursing his legal options while serving as a senator would distract from the business of Idaho.

Responding to reports of the last week, he said only: “I have no control over what people choose to believe.”

Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on Aug. 1 after his arrest in June in a police undercover operation at an airport men’s room. And while he has since said he did nothing wrong, the episode roiled the Republican party and produced numerous calls for him to step down.

More reax:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said from Kentucky that Craig “made a difficult decision, but the right one. ”

“It is my hope he will be remembered not for this, but for his three decades of dedicated public service,” McConnell said. McConnell had been one of Craig’s harshest critics, calling his actions “unforgivable.” He and other GOP leaders asked Craig to give up his senior positions on Senate committees on Wednesday, a day after they asked the Senate ethics committee to investigate his actions.

Craig spokesman Sidney Smith said he didn’t know if Craig would return to Washington. “We haven’t decided that yet, whether he’s going to return or not,” Smith said.

The WashTimes examines the political impact: “Amid the blogospheric frenzy over that juiciest of subjects, a Washington sex scandal, the reality of politics moves forward. The scandal that forced Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s retirement, combined with Virginia Sen. John Warner’s announcement that he will not seek re-election, have boosted Democrats’ hopes of expanding their Senate majority next year.”

And, in the end, the GOP has no one to blame but itself.

Accountability: Accept it. Learn from it. Deal with it.

Judging from this morning’s press conference, Larry Craig isn’t ready to do any of that. Republicans in Washington, however, can’t afford to wallow and fight lost battles.

Move on.

***

1:30pm Eastern. More observations…

Regarding the applause at the press conference, Fox News Channel’s Major Garrett reported that it was Dems who clapped (and probably supporters who countered with “We love you!”). As for the purported GOP sexual double standard with regard to Sen. David Vitter: If Vitter had been charged and pleaded guilty to an offense similar to or graver than Craig’s, I’m sure GOP leaders would be calling for him to resign in the very same way that Craig was called to do so. The libs who keep harping on double standards conveniently forget that it was and has been Republicans in Vitter’s home turf who first blew the whistle on his extracurricular activities. Reminder:

Christopher Tidmore of Metairie, now a Republican candidate for the state Legislature, wrote the Louisiana Weekly article five years ago about Vitter’s relationship with Canal Street brothel prostitute Wendy Cortez. Vitter continuously denied any relationship. Tidmore said Vitter has tried to sabotage his career since he wrote the article.

“For five years, David Vitter conducted a pattern of lies. Now, we know it was to conceal a pattern of behavior,” Tidmore said. “He has to strongly consider his next action because his remaining in office will be very damaging to the people of Louisiana and to the State Republican Party.”

So far, Vitter has managed to avoid further questions about his admission of “sin.” He better enjoy the Labor Day holiday. When he gets back to Washington, I have a feeling he’ll be feeling the post-Craig heat.

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