By Paul Kane
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sen. Larry E. Craig yesterday appealed a Minnesota judge's decision to bar him from withdrawing his guilty plea to a disorderly-conduct charge stemming from his June arrest in an airport men's room sex sting.
In addition to continuing his legal fight, the Idaho Republican also began a public relations campaign by sitting for an interview with NBC News. In a conversation scheduled to air tonight, Craig said he told his wife about the incident on Aug. 27, moments before the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call broke the story of his arrest and guilty plea. He also said he was a victim of profiling and vowed not to resign.
"You know I'm a fighter. . . . I don't just walk away from a fight. This is the toughest fight of my political life," he said.
Craig also criticized former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who had said that the senator disappointed voters with his behavior. Craig had led Romney's campaign in Idaho until he resigned when his arrest became public. Craig said Romney "threw me under the bus."
On Oct. 4, Hennepin County District Judge Charles A. Porter found that Craig's guilty plea was "accurate, voluntary and intelligent." In a 27-page opinion, Porter said that Craig knew what he was pleading guilty to and did so in an effort to hide his crime.
Craig filed a motion with the Minnesota Court of Appeals to fight Porter's decision. Legal experts said it could take the court as long as six months to consider the case. They said Craig faces a tough challenge in convincing the appellate judges that Porter was in error in finding no "manifest injustice" in the guilty plea -- the standard that Minnesota law requires for pleas to be withdrawn.
Rather than resigning Sept. 30 as he originally planned, Craig has said he will stay in the Senate until January 2009, the end of his term, while he works on clearing his name in the Minnesota courts and before the Senate ethics committee.