Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday called his conduct “unforgivable” and acknowledged many in his caucus believe he should resign.
Mr Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on August 1, and while he has since said he did nothing wrong, the episode has roiled the Republican party and produced numerous calls for him to step down.
As a measure of the pressure he faces, party officials said a statement had been drafted at Republican Party headquarters calling for the third-term senator to resign. It was not issued, these officials said, in response to concerns it might complicate quiet efforts under way to persuade the 62-year-oldlawmaker to give up his seat.
Mr Craig has not made any public statements about his case since an appearance earlier this week in Boise, Idaho, in which he said he had done nothing wrong. “I am not gay. I never have been gay,” he added emphatically.
Mr Craig served in the House before winning his first Senate term in 1990, and compiled a strongly conservative voting record. He was arrested on June 11 by an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport toilet who said the senator had engaged in conduct “often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct”.
The senator denied, however, that he had used foot and hand gestures to signal interest in a sexual encounter. The officer, Sgt Dave Karsnia, accused the three-term senator of lying and grew exasperated with his denials. “Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we’re going down the tubes,” Karsnia said.
In the police interview, Mr Craig never admitted doing anything wrong and said his actions had been misinterpreted, but Karsnia wrote in his report that the gestures were consistent with efforts to find a sexual partner in the men’s room.