Larry Craig

Craig says decision not to run was made before arrest

Sen. Larry Craig said Tuesday during a radio call-in show that he decided not to seek re-election long before his arrest in a Minnesota airport men's room sex sting, contradicting earlier statements that he was undecided.

"It's probably difficult for some to believe, but my wife and I had already decided that I would retire about a year ago," Craig said.

On Aug. 9, just three weeks before news of his arrest broke, Craig answered this way when asked by the Idaho Statesman if he had decided whether he would run again: "No. But this is the month to do that, and I will get that done."

He had scheduled a campaign fundraiser for September 2007 that was canceled after the story of his arrest broke.

Craig was arrested June 11 at the Minneapolis Airport after an undercover police officer said Craig had solicited sex from him. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, but is now fighting to reverse that plea.

Craig answered questions for about 20 minutes Tuesday during Nate Shelman's live radio call-in show on Boise station KBOI-AM (670).

Some callers were supportive, some were pointed, and many focused on issues around Craig's arrest. Questioning Craig's decision to stay in office after saying he intended to resign, Jim in Wilder asked, "What are we showing our children of Idaho when you say that you're going to do something and you don't do it?"

Craig said that he changed his mind when he returned to Washington and found that he could be effective in the U.S. Senate.

"In fact if I were to resign," he said, "Idaho could lose a tremendous amount."

Craig, who has blamed pressure from a Statesman investigation into rumors about his sexuality on his decision to plead guilty, also criticized the media's handling of news of his arrest.

"What they were saying is so phony and so false - liberal media trying to put down a conservative guy," he said.

Heath Druzin: 373-6617