From Boise, Idaho today, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) held a jaw dropping press conference this afternoon where he refuted rumors that he is gay. The Senator said that his mistake was pleading guilty to a charge of lewd conduct in airport men’s room in Minneapolis. After apologizing to his family and the people of Idaho, Craig said, “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 the hope of making it go away. I did not seek any counsel, either from an attorney, staff, friends, or family. That was a mistake, and I deeply regret it. Because of that, I have now retained counsel and I am asking my counsel to review this matter and to advise me on how to proceed.” 

He then blamed The Idaho Statesman newspaper for his problems. “For a moment, I want to put my state of mind into context on June 11. For 8 months leading up to June, my family and I had been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman. If you’ve seen today’s paper, you know why. Let me be clear: I am not gay and never have been.” 

“Still, without a shred of truth or evidence to the contrary, the Statesman has engaged in this witch hunt. In pleading guilty, I overreacted in Minneapolis, because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman’s investigation and the rumors it has fueled around Idaho. Again, that overreaction was a mistake, and I apologize for my misjudgment. Furthermore, I should not have kept this arrest to myself, and should have told my family and friends about it. I wasn’t eager to share this failure, but I should have done so anyway,” the self-proclaimed non-gay Craig said. 

He made it clear that he wasn’t resigning. “I love my wife, family, friends, staff, and Idaho. I love serving Idaho in Congress. Over the years, I have accomplished a lot for Idaho, and I hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that. There are still goals I would like to accomplish, and I believe I can still be an effective leader for Idaho. Next month, I will announce, as planned, whether or not I will seek reelection.” 

He said his mistake was trying to handle this matter himself. “As an elected official, I fully realize that my life is open for public criticism and scrutiny, and I take full responsibility for the mistake in judgment I made in attempting to handle this matter myself.  It is clear, though, that through my actions I have brought a cloud over Idaho. For that, I ask the people of Idaho for their forgiveness. As I mentioned earlier, I have now retained counsel to examine this matter and I will make no further comment.”

Making these kind of statements really could set Craig up for a big fall. Blaming the newspaper is an old political trick that in this day in and age rarely works. If the Statesman can provide hard evidence to back up their reports, and there is no reason why they probably can’t, Craig and his family are in for a lot of embarrassment. The rumors about Craig’s homosexual behavior have been around for almost a decade, and I am not even including allegations that go back to 1982. Craig has been a strong cultural conservative, who has been vocal in his opposition to same sex marriage, and this what makes this story so explosive.

The big questions for Craig are, if you didn’t do anything wrong, why would you think it over for a few weeks then still plead guilty, and if you aren’t gay, have you ever engaged in homosexual sex? The GOP is looking like the party of hypocrites after the Vitter, Foley, and Craig scandals. I don’t see how the Republicans can even pretend to be the party of family values. Sen. Craig challenged the newspaper to put their cards on the table, and I don’t think he is going to like what he sees. In my mind Larry Craig is done, and he is hurting his party by fighting this out. 

Full statement from Sen.Craig 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
 

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