Larry Craig, the United States Senator who pleaded guilty to charges of cruising in an airport toilet, gave an hour-long TV interview last night in which he discussed the incident in detail.
Appearing alongside his wife, the 62-year-old Republican politician was asked by NBC correspondent Matt Lauer: “Are you technically not a homosexual?
“Is it possible you’re bisexual?” The Senator replied: “It’s no to both.”
Mr Lauer has faced criticism that his interview was too soft on Mr and Mrs Craig, prefacing the above question with: “You’re going to have to forgive me for this.”
Senator Craig was arrested on June 11th by an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport men’s room who said the Idaho politician had engaged in conduct “often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct.”
Minutes after he was arrested for lewd conduct, Craig denied soliciting for sex, saying “I’m not gay. I don’t do these kinds of things,” according to an audio tape released by police.
He denied that he had used foot and hand gestures to signal interest in a sexual encounter.
Despite a pledge to resign, he later announced he would challenge his guilty plea and claimed that he admitted to the charge in a panic to avoid triggering a story about his sexuality in his hometown newspaper.
“It was a very, very big mistake,” he said last night of his decision to plead guilty.
“I sought no counsel. I made a very big mistake.”
Mrs Craig was also gently questioned by Mr Lauer about her husband’s sexuality.
She admitted she did some “soul searching” after she found out about the bathroom incident, but said:
“I honestly believe my husband has always been faithful to me in every way.”
She also dealt with persistent press rumours about her husband having secret homosexual life, describing an incident when journalists coming to her home asking for comment after a man had claimed to have had sex with the Senator in Washington’s Union Station.
“I knew immediately it was not the truth, because the description he gave of Larry in some areas that only I might know about were wrong on three counts.”
Senator Craig went to great detail to explain his actions in the bathroom, which the undercover police officer thought amounted to cruising, after he was asked:
“So again, the fact that these motions seemed to replicate a well-established sequence of signals for soliciting anonymous sex, it’s a coincidence?”
He said he may have bumped the foot of the officer in the adjacent bathroom stall, but did not tap his foot, reportedly a signal that indicates a desire for sex.
As to placing his hand palm up under the divide between the cubicles, another “come on” sign, Senator Craig claims he was removing a piece of toilet paper that had become stuck to his shoe.
Asked about his hostile voting record on gay rights, he said: “I don’t approve of the lifestyle.”
He first announced he intended to resign by September 30th, then said he was reconsidering.
He later said he would wait until after his appeal against his guilty plea was heard.
Senator Craig then announced that despite the court decision against him he will remain in the Senate until the end of his term – another 18 months.
He was a member of the House of Representatives before winning his first Senate term in 1990.