BOISE, Idaho - Under fire from leaders of his own party, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig said on Tuesday the only thing he had done wrong was to plead guilty after a police complaint of lewd conduct in a men's room. He declared, 'I am not gay. I never have been gay.'
'I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport,' he said at a news conference with his wife, Suzanne, at his side.
Craig's defiant stance came as Senate Republican leaders in Washington called for an ethics committee review into his involvement in a police sting operation this summer in the airport men's room.
'In the meantime, the leadership is examining other aspects of the case to see if additional action is required,' Sen. Mitch McConnell and other top GOP lawmakers said in a written statement.
A private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, also filed a complaint with the ethics committee seeking an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate rules by engaging in disorderly conduct.
Craig entered his plea several weeks after an undercover police officer in the airport arrested him and issued a complaint that said the three-term senator had engaged in actions 'often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct.'
Craig said he has hired a lawyer and will ask him to review the case.
The airport incident occurred June 11. Craig signed his plea papers on Aug. 1, and word of the events surfaced Monday. The senator issued a statement Monday night that said, 'In hindsight, I should have pled not guilty.'
He repeated that assertion at the Idaho news conference. 'In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision,' he said. 'I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away.'
Craig was at times defiant, at others apologetic on Tuesday.
'Please let me apologize to my family, friends and staff and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho,' he said. 'I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I did nothing wrong, and I regret the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought on my wife, on my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans.'
The conservative three-term senator is up for re-election next year. He said he would announce next month whether he would run again and suggested he still considers himself a politician with a future.
'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 our state,' he said.
Craig, who has voted against gay marriage, finds his political future in doubt because of the case, which has drawn national attention. Craig, 62, has faced rumors about his sexuality since the 1980s, but allegations that he had engaged in gay sex have never been substantiated.