Pressure mounts on Craig

John Ensign warns of public hearings.

Topics: 2008 Elections, War Room, Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Roy Ashburn,

We’re not sure what this means exactly, but CNN’s Dana Bash says her sources are “sort of” getting the “sense” that Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will resign “pretty soon.”

The Senate Republican leadership turned up the heat on Craig Thursday, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling Craig’s conduct “unforgivable” — mighty Christian of you, senator! — and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Ensign saying that the explanations Craig has given him don’t “pass the smell test.”

The Republican leaders have already stripped Craig of his committee assignments, and Ensign warned him through the press Thursday that the worst may still be to come. “The Ethics Committee has the option of doing a private hearing or a public hearing,” Ensign said. “If it is a public hearing, I cannot imagine Sen. Craig wanting to put the Senate or his family through that.”

As more Republicans speak out about the Craig case, two of them have grown awfully quiet. There’s Craig himself, who is said to be on vacation with his wife — boy, doesn’t that sound like a good time? — and then there’s GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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When the Craig case first broke earlier this week, the Romney campaign acted quickly to distance itself from the senator, pulling down a YouTube video in which Craig spoke highly of Romney and announcing that Craig would no longer serve as Romney’s co-chairman in Iowa. But now Romney won’t say whether he thinks Craig should step down. “I think at this stage, the right course is for him to make this decision looking at his own conscience, talking to the people of Idaho, talking to his colleagues in the Senate,” Romney told CNN Thursday. “I’m not one of those. I’m going to let him make that decision.”

One possible reason for Romney’s reticence: Having received a disproportionate share of his fundraising dollars from Idaho — a solidly red state chock-full of Mormons — the former Massachusetts governor may not want to be seen as piling on if Republicans there start feeling defensive about their senator.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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