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Craig to appeal plea decision

BOISE – Sen. Larry Craig says he will file an appeal today over a judge’s refusal to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea stemming from his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting.

In an interview Sunday with Boise television station KTVB, Craig repeated he will not resign his post in the U.S. Senate, and said he will continue to work his legal options.

“We don’t know what the appellate court will say to me,” said Craig, R-Idaho. “Honestly, the appeals courts tend to defend the courts below them.

“It is my right to do what I’m doing,” he said. “I’ve already provided for Idaho certainty that Idaho needed – I’m not running for re-election. I’m no longer in the way. I am pursuing my constitutional rights.”

In another interview, Craig’s wife, Suzanne, said the senator didn’t tell her about the arrest until the story was about to break in the media. “I felt like the floor was falling out from under me. … And I felt like, almost like I was going down a drain for a few moments,” she told NBC’s Matt Lauer.

Sen. Craig told Lauer it was a “tough call” not to tell anyone about the incident. “I didn’t want to embarrass my wife, my kids, Idaho and my friends,” Craig said. “And I wrestled with it a long while. … I should have told my wife. I should have told my kids. And most importantly, I should have told counsel.”

The senator also discussed his relationship with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Craig was Senate liaison for Romney’s campaign, a post he abandoned when the scandal came to light.

“I was very proud of my association with Mitt Romney,” Craig told Lauer. “… And he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again.”

Lauer’s interview with the Craigs will be broadcast Tuesday night on “Matt Lauer Reports” and Wednesday morning on “Today.”

Sen. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August after he was accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in June.

After the matter became public, Craig tried to withdraw his plea.

But a judge in Minnesota refused, saying Craig’s plea “was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and … supported by the evidence.”

The arrest went unnoticed for months this summer, then was reported in late August by a Washington, D.C., newspaper that had discovered the senator’s guilty plea.

Craig, a conservative Republican opposed to gay rights, announced he would resign Sept. 30.

He quickly backpedaled, though, saying he would resign only if he was unable to “clear” his name by that time.

But as the end of the month drew near, he abandoned the deadline completely. Later, he announced he intended to finish the remainder of his term, which expires in 2008.

Craig argues he did nothing illegal in the airport men’s room and pleaded guilty only because he thought the case would be kept secret.

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