ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Disgraced Sen. Larry Craig was spotted late Tuesday morning, back in Washington, D.C., for the first time since word of his arrest for disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men’s room and subsequent pledge to resign at the end of this month (maybe).
A reporter for CNN spied Craig using a door reserved for staff and Senators and then slipping into a private Senator’s dining room. Word spread through the Capitol Hill press corps like wildfire.
An interview with Craig remains elusive since his fall from grace and he has left open the narrow window that he won’t resign after all.
Craig was seen next voting on the Senate floor at 12:15pm and moments later he was pursued by still photographers just off the Senate floor.
Reporters who attended a photo op meeting between Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., and Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey saw Craig pop out of an unmarked door in the hallway and disappear just as quickly.
It’s like whackamole or a road runner cartoon perhaps. Journalists covering the Iraq debate and the other business on Capitol Hill have the eyes in the back of their head turned on to find Craig, too.
Games of cat and mouse could not happen anywhere else in town. Reporters covering the White House have a cramped set of rooms and offices built over a swimming pool. It is a renovated spot and the pool has been ripped out. But renovated or not, it’s the only place reporters can go at the White House. And it is cramped.
At the State Department, journalists have access to one wing in the basement. Walking the rest of the building requires an escort. It’s a similar story at the Justice Department. Journalists can walk around the Pentagon, but the movers and shakers there are not really public figures. They aren’t on television as much as Senators and Congressmen.
But on Capitol Hill, a press pass is like a golden back stage pass to the Van Halen concert. There are some restrictions on where TV cameras can go, but the reporters can go anywhere.
The only places Craig is truly in private on Capitol Hill are in his office and on the actual Senate floor. Pretty much everywhere else is fair game. If you want to ask Hillary Clinton a question; figure out where she is and walk up and ask. Did Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say something that needs clarifying? Wait for him off the Senate floor and ask him. Try staking out President Bush without specific approval. You won’t get far.
Its all in keeping with the point of Capitol Hill, really. The House and the Senate, ultimately belong to the voters. The lawmakers, necessarily, are accountable to the people and the reporters who get them information.