Larry Craig

Sen. Craig likely to make announcement Saturday morning

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will announce his career plans Saturday morning after widespread calls from fellow Republicans to resign over a men’s room sex sting, his spokesman said today.

"We haven't quite scheduled anything, but we're looking at doing something tomorrow," said Craig's spokesman Sid Smith. "We haven't set a time or place yet."

Dan Whiting, another Craig spokesman, said there would be an announcement Saturday but would not say whether Craig will step down.

Gov. Butch Otter already appears to have settled on a successor: Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, according to several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations.

Craig has been out of public view since Tuesday, but Republican sources in Idaho said he spent today making calls to top party officials, including the governor, gauging their support.

There has been virtually none publicly.

Asked today at the White House if the senator should resign, President Bush said nothing and walked off stage.

The clamor for Craig to step down intensified today, with the news that the Republican Party had been prepared to issue a statement calling for his resignation, a GOP source said today.

But they didn’t put it out because “party leaders had received an indication that Craig was going to step down,” on his own, the source told McClatchy Newspapers.

The Republican Party chairman, Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, was on a plane headed back from Jordan, and was not expected to comment until he returned to the U.S. Until now, Martinez has said only that Craig’s arrest and guilty plea is “disappointing” and a “sad situation.”

But the move to consider sending out a statement asking Craig to resign is sign of how worried Republicans are about the scandal, and how they would rather call on one of their own to step down than see further damage to the party’s reputation.

The chairman of the Senate Republican re-election committee, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, told reporters Thursday it would be best for the Republican Party for Craig to resign, but stopped short of calling for him to step down.

While GOP leaders in both Idaho and Washington have asked Craig to resign, Craig has given no public indication of whether – or when -- that will happen.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Mike Crapo, Craig’s fellow Idahoan in the Senate, today reiterated his friendship and support for his Republican colleague. But Crapo has not offered him advice one way or the other, said Crapo spokeswoman Susan Wheeler.

“He’ll support whatever decision Sen. Craig makes,” Wheeler said. “He’s not saying, 'You’re on your own.' He’s saying, 'You need to evaluate what you’re going to do, if you’re going to do anything.' ”

Reporters in Washington, D.C., are hearing high-level talk that Sen. Larry Craig could resign as soon as today.

The Associated Press cites "Republican activists." News stations including CNN and Fox started reporting Thursday that national Republican leaders and White House officials were huddling to find a way to persuade Craig to step down and limit the damage his scandal could cause to the party's election hopes in 2008.

Check back at Idahostatesman.com today to follow the story.

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