Sources: Well-Placed GOP Sources: Craig Likely to Quit Soon

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Several well-placed GOP sources in Washington and Idaho have told CNN that embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig is likely to resign soon, possibly as early as Friday.

A GOP source with knowledge of the situation told CNN's Dana Bash that the Republican National Committee was poised to take the extraordinary step of calling on Craig to resign.

However, that move was put on hold, the source said, because top party leaders have received indications that Craig himself is preparing to step down.

Sources have confirmed that high-level meetings on the matter were being conducted in Idaho on Thursday.

Craig has been under pressure to quit since news surfaced this week that he was arrested in June at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and later pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge.

The arrest was made by an officer investigating reports of sexual behavior in an airport restroom.

In a post-arrest police recording released Thursday, Craig denied that he was trying to engage in lewd behavior in the airport bathroom and suggested he was entrapped by the arresting officer.

"I sit down to go to the bathroom, and you said our feet bumped," Craig told an officer. "I believe they did ... because I reached down and scooted over and the next thing I knew, under the bathroom divider comes a card that says 'police.' "

Craig said he was in the bathroom for its intended purpose and told the officers,"I am not gay. I don't do these kinds of things."

"You shouldn't be out to entrap people either," Craig said.

The officer accused Craig of lying during the contentious, eight-minute session, and said he would not take the senator to jail "as long as you're cooperative."

"I'm just disappointed in you, sir," the officer said. "I mean, people vote for you."

Craig spokesman Dan Whiting said Thursday the tape "speaks for itself."

Craig's guilty plea to the misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge came earlier this month, according to state criminal records.

Craig told reporters Tuesday he did not take part in "inappropriate conduct" and said he had "overreacted and made a poor decision" in pleading guilty. No sexual contact is alleged to have taken place, although the officer who arrested the senator said Craig moved his foot to touch the officer's foot while they sat in adjoining restroom stalls.

Craig is a three-term senator who has aligned himself with conservative groups that oppose gay rights.

Earlier Thursday, Sen. John Ensign, who heads the Republican senatorial campaign committee, joined the list of people putting Craig under increasing pressure to resign, The Associated Press reported.

Ensign, of Nevada, did not call on Craig to step down, but strongly suggested he do so, AP reported.

"I wouldn't put myself, hopefully, in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that's what I would do," he told AP.

At least three other key Republicans in Congress have called for Craig's resignation, and the senator's support in his home state of Idaho apparently has declined.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on Thursday declined to say whether Craig should step down. But he acknowledged the predicament Craig is in.

"He's in a tough spot," Otter told CNN's Bash. "He's going to have to work it out."

Meanwhile, a SurveyUSA poll showed that 55 percent of Idaho respondents think Craig should step down. The poll of 475 registered Idaho voters was conducted Tuesday. Thirty-four percent of the 475 respondents said Craig should remain in office.

The Idaho Statesman -- a newspaper the senator has accused of conducting a "witch hunt" -- was frank in calling for his resignation.

"We cannot abide an elected official who didn't disclose a lewd conduct arrest until the story broke 77 days later -- a lie by omission and a violation of the public trust," the Statesman said in an editorial published in Thursday's editions. "We cannot afford ... to have a senator who merely provides fodder for bloggers and late-night talk show hosts."

In its editorial, the Boise newspaper pointed out it endorsed Craig for re-election in 2002. But in recent months, it had been investigating allegations that Craig had made sexual advances to men.

Sen. John McCain, a GOP presidential candidate, has called Craig's case "disgraceful." Another Republican senator, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, has said Craig pleaded guilty to "a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator."

The White House also has voiced its displeasure over the scandal.

Craig, 62 and married, has stepped down from his role in the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney.


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