Larry Craig

Craig's children tell Diane Sawyer they believe their father in Good Morning America interview

WASHINGTON -- In an interview on Good Morning America, Sen. Larry Craig’s children said this morning that it would not matter to them if their father were gay, but that they believe him when they say he is not.

They also said in the six-minute interview that they were also disappointed with how Craig’s fellow Republicans had so little loyalty for their father, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct last month after he was arrested in a June sex sting in the bathroom of the Minneapolis airport. Craig announced Saturday that he would resign Sept. 30.

In a six-minute interview with Diane Sawyer, Shae Howell and Michael Craig said they had a very difficult conversation with their father before his press conference announcing his decision to step down.

Craig, 62, adopted Michael, Shae, and son Jay from his wife Suzanne's previous marriage. Jay was the only one unavailable for the ABC interview.

“It was tough, standing there next to him, but we are family and we stay together through good times and bad,” said Michael Craig, 38, the oldest of the three. “We know who our father is and we were there to support him.”

When asked if they believed their father’s assertion he was not gay, both answered, “absolutely,” with Howell adding, “and between my mom and dad, there’s been nothing but warmth and love and trust our whole lives.”

Before the press conference, they asked him “what exactly happened in that bathroom,” Michael Craig said. “We just wanted to talk to him about because we were shocked by what we were reading in the media.”

They were “trying to kind of break down definitions of what words mean,” Michael Craig said. “We just wanted to hear from our dad what happened, We’ve known him our whole life. He has been so trustworthy to us, so honest to us, that we believe him.”

They asked him, “the definition of what sex is, maybe it wasn’t sexual intercourse, but were there sexual actions? Were there sexual feelings?” Michael Craig said.

“All these terrible things that were said in the media, we asked all those tough questions,” he said. “I don’t want to have an answer based on a legality or a technicality or semantics of the words. We wanted to know exactly what had happened, and after speaking to our dad, we know exactly what happened.”

They described their father as being “a victim of circumstance. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Michael Craig said.

“In a normal world, if you accidentally bump your foot against someone else‘s, then you would say, “excuse me.” That person certainly wouldn’t press charges on you. Unless they’re perhaps, an undercover police officer looking for an interpretation of what that meant.”

When they were asked whether they had pressed their father to explain why he had pleaded guilty instead of fighting, Michael Craig said that the father was a “problem solver” who was looking for the best way to resolve an unpleasant situation.

“The officer said this is a piece of paper, we’re done with it and it goes away. I think he was just trying to resolve a little problem, and he thought it was probably something, resulting in something fairly minor. And I think he knows that he screwed up.”

Craig cried when he spoke to his children about the matter, they told ABC. “My dad is so protective of us kids,” he said. “He’s got seven grandkids, between my sister and myself, and he was upset because he chose to be a politician and he kind of knew what that life would entail. But the kids didn’t chose this life, and the idea that this would cause any kind of negative impact on our lives, just tore him up.”

Both children said they were angry with the way Republican leaders distanced themselves from their father, so quickly. They chalked it up to politics, but said it was disappointing to see such a reaction.

“These people are friends of our family, and our friends of my dad, and unfortunately are up for re-election in 2008,” he said. “And I think (they) are a little leery of being associated with my dad. That’s very disappointing. It was a little bit angry and little bit disappointing, the lack of public support when I know so many of his colleagues back on Capitol Hill had worked with my dad for 30 years.”

Both Howell and Michael Craig said that it would not matter the them if their father came to them and said he was gay. “He’s still our dad, he’s still granddad to all the kids, it wouldn‘t matter,” Howell said. It matter to their mother, however, Michael Craig said. “But gay or straight, that part doesn’t matter, it was a matter of an accusation of a lewd, immoral, illegal act,” Michael Craig said.

Howell added, “And I think the other frustrating part is you know, people, again, on Capitol Hill especially, made their decision and formed their opinion about it without even talking to my dad.”

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