Updated 8:05 p.m.
Sen. Larry Craig told NBC's Matt Lauer that he regrets not picking up the phone and telling his wife or family -- or even his staff or a lawyer -- about the arrest.
"I sought no counsel," he said. "I made a very big mistake."
For Suzanne Craig, the biggest disappointment was that her husband didn't tell her about the arrest. But she also said the she and her children asked her husband whether he was gay.
"I did a lot of soul-searching about that, and asked myself if I missed something somewhere," she said, a revelation that made her husband look uncomfortable. "I thought, "Am I just out there somehow being naive?"
Then she added: "I honestly believe my husband has been faithful to me, in every way." Craig said he was disappointed to see how his colleagues reacted. Some senators avoid eye contact with him now, he said, and "they didn't pick up the phone and call me. They simply took the media (reports) verbatim."
Craig said he feels as though he might have been treated differently by his colleagues -- and the court of public opinion -- if he had been involved in a heterosexual affair.
Lauer asked Craig if it was possible he was gay, or bisexual. Said Craig: "No to both."
He also asked whether Craig thought it would "be awful" if he were gay.
"I don't agree with the lifestyle and I've said so with my votes over the years," Craig said. "\Have I viewed it as awful? I viewed it as a lifestyle I don't agree with."
Added Suzanne: "Some people think he pleaded guilty to homosexual behavior," she said. "He did not."
Sen. Larry Craig told a TV interviewer that Idaho Statesman didn't plan to run its findings of an investigation into longstanding rumors that he had engaged in gay sex unless an incident occurred.
"We'd been through a ten month unprecedented investigation, looking into our private lives - our children's lives - our children's adoptions records, Suzanne's divorce records," he told KTVB-TV in Boise in an interview broadcast Tuesday night.
"They called 300 of our friends, they talked to them," Suzanne Craig told KTVB. "They didn't ask what they knew about Larry Craig. They spread a rumor that came from a blogger. I would say that is not a substantive piece of news, but evidently they took it like that. So, I, I just didn't feel that was a credible way to go about reporting, to spread a rumor."
Larry Craig told interviewer Mark Johnson that some of his friends were "very intimidated" by the Statesman's questioning.
"We received literally as many as three and four phone calls a day for a period of several months there from our friends, my fraternity brothers, saying, 'Do you realize what this man is saying about you, what he is asking of us?' They said 'what do we do?' because they hadn't called back yet. I said 'tell them the truth. I've got nothing to hide. Tell that reporter the truth.' And they did.
"And I'm forever thankful for them, but do I put my family again - or in this instance through the embarrassment and my friends and the state of Idaho - those were the kind of thoughts in my mind, Mark, as I made a big mistake."
In a statement released Tuesday, Statesman Editor Vicki Gowler responded:
"The Idaho Statesman did not report a story based on a rumor by a blogger, as did at least four other Idaho media and several national media last fall. Instead, our reporter spent about five months pursuing the truth. He did not have to spread the rumor; it was widely known. Our investigation included an in-depth interview with a credible source, a professional Washington, D.C., man who described having sex with the senator in a men’s restroom at Union Station, an incident similar to the one for which the senator was arrested, pled guilty and then hid from his wife, his staff, his colleagues and his constituents. We also never told the senator the story would not be written unless there was an incident. After last May’s interview, we asked for the documentation that the senator mentioned to prove he had never had sex with another man. We never received those documents in a form we could use."
Updated 7 p.m.:
Suzanne Craig said she felt "violated" when the Idaho Statesman confronted her husband a few months ago with evidence that he had had homosexual encounters over the years. The tape that was played by Statesman reporter Dan Popkey was "almost pornographic," she told NBC interview Matt Lauer.
"I knew immediately it was not the truth because the description he gave of areas that only I might know about, were wrong," she said.
Lauer took Craig step-by-step through what happened June 11, the day he was arrested by an undercover officer conducting a sex sting in the men's room of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. He asked the senator whether he was aware that the restroom was a cruising spot, known on gay-themed Web sites and chat rooms as a spot where men who wanted to have sex could meet.
Craig said he wasn't aware that the bathroom he visited had that reputation.
"I use bathrooms for bathrooms' sake," Craig said.
Craig told Lauer that when he was questioned by airport police, he did present a business card identifying him as a U.S. senator. He also acknowledged asking the officer "What do you think of that?"
Craig said he was reaching for his driver's license, and said that the interrogation reflects his confused state of mind at the time.
"I was at a very frustrated angry, embarrassed situation," he said. "The tape, I think, is very clear, about what I said, how I reacted."
Craig said he felt he was profiled by his arresting officer, but stopped short of calling him a liar.
"I now know that this officer is a profiler," he said. "Now I know all about profiling, when innocent people get caught up in what I was caught up as an innocent person."
Craig said he doesn't know if he touched the police officer's foot as they sat in adjacent stalls.
"Sounds to me like this is an officer who was more interested in an arrest than he was in the facts," he said. "And of course we can talk about why I pleaded guilty — but I have had a lot of attorneys look at these facts and say 'Larry, under any circumstance, if we'd have fought this, it would have been thrown out.'"
Sen. Larry Craig says quitting would have been “the easy way out” of his troubles caused by his guilty plea in a men’s room sex sting.
In an Boise TV interview, Craig apologized to Idahoans “for any of the negative that's come about, or the frustration that's come about from a decision I made that was not the right decision” to plead guilty to disorderly conduct after a police officer accused him of soliciting sex.
“I walked in that morning into a sting that I had no idea I was walking into,” he told KTVB-TV anchorman Mark Johnson. “ ... Yes, I walked by the stalls. I looked to see if they were empty. Most of them were full, or apparently all of them were full as I recall. I stood back, I waited, I kept looking. Finally, one opened up. I walked in, I put my suitcase down, I sat down on a bathroom stool. I did not realize that to look into a stall, set a suitcase in front of you was a gay action, or at least according to this law enforcement officer. He was watching out through a door profiling me.”
He said he reached down to pick up a piece of toilet paper that “looked like it was stuck to the heel of my shoe.”
“Well, I reached down, I pulled it off,” he said. “My hand went below the divider. Within seconds there was a card under the divider that said ‘police,’ and the motion of the finger to the door. And I said ‘no!’ — then the motion again. I stood up, stepped out and was physically jerked out of the bathroom into a lobby area.
“And I said, "What's going on here? What are you doing?’” He said he was told he was under arrest. He protested that he had a plane to catch. “About that time another officer came up, grabbed me by the other arm and said, ‘if you don't behave, we're going to arrest you and throw you in jail.’
“I've never been arrested in my life,” he said. “I was blown away. So, I went down, I was interrogated. I was fingerprinted, I was mug-shotted. The tape that most Americans have listened to was the tape that was the interview between me and the arresting officer. He was trying to put words in my mouth. I refused to allow that to happen. I knew what had gone on there.
“Oh, he said, ‘just plead guilty and file it in the court, pay a fine, it will go away, and I won't call the media.’ Those are pretty intimidating things. ... Pretty intimidating time for me. The interrogation took place, and I walked out, ran and caught my airplane to Washington.”
In his first national media interview since he was arrested in a sex sting in a men's room in June, U.S. Sen. Larry Craig likened the media attention to his arrest to a hurricane season without a storm.
"I became the political hurricane that everyone wanted to talk about," the Idaho Republican told NBC's Matt Lauer, at the beginning of an hour-long interview. "And did they talk about it? You bet they did."
The interview, Craig's first nationally broadcast interview since he was caught in a sex sting in the men's room of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. It was also his wife Suzanne's first nationally broadcast interview, and she quickly defended her husband. Suzanne Craig quickly dispelled long-held rumors that they had a marriage of convenience to cover up her husband's sexual orientation.
"They were saying it's a marriage of convenience," Suzanne Craig said. "Give me a break!"
She said that she has learned to ignore the rumors.
"I don't listen to other people's rumors," she said. "I know what's right, I know about our relationship. I'm very secure in that relationship."
Updated 8:05 p.m.
Sen. Larry Craig said that even after a Minnesota judge’s ruling against him, he never reconsidered resigning.
"Was there a point during that day senator that you reconsidered your decision to stay in Washington? “To resign is the easy way out,” Craig told KTVB-TV. “Cut your losses, get the heck out of town. That's just not my style - and there's an awful lot of work to do for Idaho.”
The Craigs said said when they go shopping or to restaurants, they are welcomed, and people hug and encourage them.
“And frankly, when I sit down and read all those e-mails, it's therapy,” Craig said.
The Craigs said they can laugh at some of the jokes, like a tap dancing bathroom parody on the Jay Leno show.
Craig said he believes he can serve successfully through the rest of his term, 15 more months.
“Everything's on the table. Is there anything more? Is there any greater embarrassment that can occur - or can I move from this point forward?
"The ethics process will go on. It may be the only opportunity I have to openly tell my story. I relish that. I'm innocent.
The senator said in 2008, most voters will be thinking about the presidential candidates and a host of other issues. “I don't think Larry Craig will be a big item. I don't know that — but, frankly — I think the war is a much bigger item,” he said.
Craig said he’d love to return to his hometown of Midvale and speak at a high school graduation, sharing the lessons he’s learned and the fact that he’s still learning.
Craig said he has always opposed profiling by law enforcement and he would consider supporting legislation.
“If legislation like that comes along, I'll take a very serious look at it,” he said. “I'm innocent. I've been through it. It's not a very pleasant experience. It's changed my life, it's changed my family's life, it may have changed the political life in Idaho, I don't know. But, it is the question — a very important one.”
Craig said now that he’s explained his side of the story, he hopes to move on.
“I'm ready to say to the media, "that's all there is to say, I've said it all,” Craig said. “There will be some who will not want that to happen in the media. At the same time, I plan to move on with my work — and that work is for the state of Idaho.
Craig said he’s not willing to predict how history will record his accomplishments or whether this incident will overshadow 27 years of service.
“I would hope that they would say of Suzanne and Larry Craig that they were good and faithful servants, and they worked hard. If that can be said and that alone, I can leave office feeling very good."
Sen. Larry Craig says he was “profiled” before his arrest by a police officer in a Minneapolis airport men's room last June.
In an interview with Boise TV station KTVB-TV (Channel 7), Craig said profiling is “wrong for anybody,” according to excerpts released by the station.
“I do believe the police officer was very aggressive, I do believe he profiled ... I'm always very frustrated about profiling,” Craig said. “ I've got a bit of a streak of civil libertarianism right down my middle.”
In a Sept. 1 press conference Craig said he planned to resign but has since said he will serve out his term.
Asked if he went against his word when he changed his mind about resigning, Craig said, “Circumstance changed. I found out I could be effective.”
“I don't want to play a semantic game at all, Mark,” he told KTVB anchorman Mark Johnson in an interview Sunday that was broadcast Tuesday night. “The day I said what I said, it was my plan to resign.”
Craig also reiterated he made his guilty plea under duress from a Statesman investigation into his sexual orientation.
The interview is one of two with Craig aired Tuesday night. The other was with NBC Today Show anchorman Matt Lauer.
Earlier Tuesday, Lauer said his interview with Craig was hard for him — and he can only imagine what it would have been like for Craig and his wife, Suzanne.
"That's a difficult conversation to have with anybody, much less a U.S. senator and his wife," said his NBC co-host Meredith Viera Tuesday morning. "What was that like for you?"
Craig, embroiled in controversy since his guilty plea to disorderly conduct became public in August, sat down with both NBC’s Matt Lauer and KTVB’s Mark Johnson in interviews that will air back to back Tuesday.
"You know, these are very difficult questions to have to ask," Lauer said. "It's an embarrassing subject. Even to ask the questions — imagine answering the questions. And to sit there with Senator Craig and his wife ... We do spend time, we take the senator step by step through what happened in that bathroom. What he said happened and what the undercover police officer says happened."
"Did he hold back at all?" Viera asked.
"He's extremely candid," Lauer said. "He tells his side of the story, and I found myself constantly looking at Mrs. Craig, and wondering what was going through her mind as these details were recounted."
"She shows a lot of poise there, to say the least," Viera said.
During the morning show, NBC aired some clips from the interview, which Lauer did with the Craigs in their Eagle home.
Lauer asked Craig about what "may be the most famous bathroom stop, I think, of the past 10 years."
He asked if Craig was aware of the bathroom's reputation as a spot to "cruise" for gay sex.
"Well I certainly am now," Craig said.
"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.
"When Larry told me that the story was going to break, and he hadn't told me about it before that, I felt like the floor was falling out from under me," Suzanne Craig said. "It happened right here in this room."