WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Crapo spoke with the Idaho Statesman this week, after Sen. Larry Craig's statement that he would complete his term and serve until January 2009.
Here is what he had to say about his colleague's fight to clear his name and the effect Craig's decision could have on Idaho's political power:
Q: Could you comment on Craig's decision to remain in the Senate?
Crapo: I support Larry in his decision. He has every right, like all of us do, to pursue his legal defense against these charges. I'm fully supportive of him continuing to do that and I look forward to working with him in the Senate while he pursues his defense of the case.
Q: Is Craig saying that it's better to have a wounded but senior senator than a brand new one appointed by Gov. Butch Otter?
Crapo: I would approach that in a different way. I'd say that Sen. Craig has consistently been a strong leader for Idaho, for nearly three decades now here in Congress. He's in a good position to be a solid leader throughout the remainder of his term. And I wouldn't try to compare his situation to a new senator's because they're just entirely different circumstances.
Because of Sen. Craig's stature, his seniority, his committee positions and so forth he is in a very good position to continue to do the solid, strong job that he's done for Idaho.
Q: Can he continue to be effective having lost his role as the senior, ranking Republican on key committees?
Crapo: Certainly to some extent that makes a difference, although I suspect Larry would possibly revisit that issue, as well. I don't know. I probably shouldn't start a story that he's not going into. There's no question that the circumstance has caused leadership to react by asking him to relinquish his ranking member positions. But that does not obviate the fact that he continues to have strong seniority, and he continues to have good committee placement, and that he's got the relationships that he's developed over his career here to be able to be a strong advocate for Idaho.
Q: In terms of delivering what Idaho expects out of its congressional delegation, this is the better decision?
Crapo: Yeah, I think that Sen. Craig can continue to serve Idaho aggressively and effectively. And I don't want to start comparing to somebody new who might come on and get into that comparison thing. But Sen. Craig can continue to serve very aggressively and effectively.
Q: Are you troubled at all by the change in course since Sept. 1 when Craig announced his intention to resign. Is that a breach of trust with Idahoans?
Crapo: I don't think so, because first of all, people are allowed to change their minds. And Larry, as he evaluated this, and got further into his defense and as he talked with legal counsel realized there were legal avenues that he could pursue that he either hadn't considered or hadn't considered as highly before, obviously made the decision that he wanted to pursue those defenses. And so I think it's permissible for him to change his course on this.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438