WASHINGTON - Senator Larry Craig of Idaho said he was entrapped in a sex sting in an airport men's room and was not aware of the bathroom's reputation as a spot to cruise for gay sex.
"Well, I certainly am now," Craig told NBC's Matt Lauer in an interview aired last night.
"Were you prior?" Lauer asked.
"Not at all," Craig responded. "I go to bathrooms to use bathrooms."
Craig said it was a "tough call" when he decided not to tell his wife or children about the arrest.
"I didn't want to embarrass my wife, my kids, Idaho, and my friends," Craig said. "I should have told my wife. I should have told my kids. And most importantly, I should have told counsel."
Suzanne Craig said that when her husband told her the story was about to break, "I felt like the floor was falling out from under me. And I felt almost like I was going down a drain for a few moments."
Craig, a three-term Republican, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August after he was accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June.
After the matter became public, Craig tried to withdraw his plea. But a judge in Minnesota refused, saying Craig's plea "was accurate, voluntary, and intelligent, and . . . supported by the evidence." On Monday, Craig took that ruling to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
"I hoped it would go away," Craig said of his decision to plead guilty. "I wanted to avoid a media storm."
Craig, 62, says he is not gay, and in the NBC interview, he and his wife said their marriage was based on love. Asked by Lauer whether theirs was a marriage of convenience to cover "a gay lifestyle," Suzanne Craig responded: "I would never do that. . . . That's almost like selling your soul for something."
Suzanne Craig says she believes her husband is not gay. "I honestly believe my husband has always been faithful to me in every way," she said.
"I love this woman very, very much," Craig said in the interview, taped at the couple's home in suburban Eagle, Idaho. "And the day I found her I fell in love, deeply in love. And that's lasted - we're heading toward our 25th anniversary."