Republican Idaho Sen. Larry Craig said Tuesday that he did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport in June and apologized for what he said is a cloud over Idaho.
Craig pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge earlier this month after being arrested in a men's bathroom. He said Tuesday that he is not gay but was under stress when the incident occurred.
Craig appeared before a bank of cameras and microphones in Boise, alongside his wife, Suzanne. The three-term Senator denied any misconduct and said his mistake was in pleading guilty to the charge.
"In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away," Craig said.
He was arrested by a plainclothes policeman who had staked out the airport men's room following complaints of lewd behavior. A police report of the incident said Craig tapped his foot several times in a stall next to the officer and touched the officer's foot, an action that the officer interpreted as a signal used by people seeking a sexual encounter. Craig said police misconstrued his actions, and he said he is not gay.
"I am not gay. I love my wife, my family, I care about friends and staff and Idaho," he said. "I love serving this great state. Over the years, I have accomplished a lot for Idaho, and I hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that."
The unusual statement came moments after Republican Senate leaders in Washington announced that they were recommending that Craig's "incident" be reported to the Senate Ethics Committee for review. The GOP leaders' statement said they are examining other aspects of the case to determine whether additional action is required.
In Boise, Craig said he is hiring counsel. He said his action in Minneapolis was the result of stress from reporting by the Idaho Statesman newspaper:
"For eight months leading up to June 11, my family and I have been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman," he said.
Craig said he would announce his political plans next month. He is up for re-election next year, but there have been hints that he might retire.