A Senator's Wide Stance: 'I Am Not Gay'

Sen. Larry Craig, his wife at his side, tells a media mob how gay he's not. (By Joe Jaszewski -- Idaho Statesman Via Associated Press)
By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From the opening line of his statement yesterday, Sen. Larry Craig was in trouble. "Thank you all very much for coming out today," he began.

"Coming out" was perhaps not the best phrase for a guy who had pleaded guilty to some rather un-senatorial conduct in an airport men's room -- and now stands accused in his home-state paper of a homosexual encounter in Union Station.

Alas for the Idaho Republican, it was not his first mistake.

No, his first mistake was on June 11, when he went into a restroom stall in the Minneapolis airport and, according to the arrest report, tapped his foot in a "signal often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct."

This was followed closely by his second mistake: handing the arresting officer his business card and asking, "What do you think about that?"

Mistake No. 3? Explaining to the police that his foot touched the undercover officer's foot in the next stall because he has "a wide stance when going to the bathroom."

Mistake No. 4: Pleading guilty on Aug. 8 to disorderly conduct, and telling nobody -- not even a lawyer or his wife -- before the news broke Monday and Craig's spokesman chalked it up to a "he said/he said misunderstanding."

This quartet of errors landed the senator before the television cameras yesterday outside the Wells Fargo building in downtown Boise. Standing next to his wife, who wore sunglasses and looked as if she felt ill, the senator almost shouted as he asserted his heterosexuality.

"Let me be clear: I am not gay. I never have been gay," Craig said. Evidently, Craig did not think this was clear enough, because moments later, he explained why he kept the arrest a secret. "I wasn't eager to share this failure, but I should have anyway -- because I am not gay!"

The Associated Press rushed out a bulletin: "Sen. Larry Craig says, 'I am not gay.' " CNN put up a "Breaking News" banner announcing, "Sen. Craig: I am not gay, and never have been gay."

The Drudge Report went with the headline "Brokeback Bathroom."

As the Craigs departed, somebody in the crowd that had gathered called out after the senator: "Hey, what if you were gay?"

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company