Dina Matos McGreevey knows exactly what Suzanne Craig must have felt like Saturday as she stood by the side of her husband, Sen. Larry Craig, while the Idaho Republican denied again that he is gay.
“I looked at her and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, that was me just three years ago,’ " McGreevey told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer on Wednesday. “I know exactly how she was feeling, the pain the humiliation, the suffering. I’m sure that’s the last place she wanted to be, but she was there supporting her husband because I’m sure this is what she’s done over the years. I know that I certainly did the same thing.”
In 2004, McGreevey stood by the side of her husband, then-Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey, as he held a statehouse press conference to announce that he was gay and would resign his position. Jim McGreevey's action was prompted by an alleged threat by a man who said he would go public about McGreevey's homosexuality and their alleged relationship.
Craig has since said he is reconsidering his decision to resign and is considering changing the guilty plea he entered in August to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges. He said he pleaded guilty to the reduced charges only because he wanted to make the case go away.
Craig was arrested in a Montana airport men's room. He denies that he was there to try to arrange a tryst with a man.
Heard it before
“When I listened to Sen. Craig on Saturday, there were striking similarities in what he said,” Dina McGreevey told Lauer. “One thing he said was, ‘Well, I pled guilty because I wanted this to go away.’ And Jim said the exact same thing to me. Just before his press conference, he said to me I just want it to go away.”
The McGreeveys, who have a young daughter, are in the process of divorcing. He is now living with his male partner and studying to be an Episcopalian priest. Both are seeking custody of their daughter.
But when McGreevey dropped his bombshell, Dina was still in love with him. Others have said that aggrieved spouses should not stand by their man – or woman – but if they haven’t been there, they have no idea what it’s like, she said.
Dina had found out the truth about her husband less than three days before he stood up to the microphones. “I don’t know what was going through her mind, but I can certainly speak for myself,” she said. “I was there physically, but, you know, I was in a fog, and I was in shock. It was a very difficult decision for me to make, but I knew that I had to be for myself; for my daughter.”
But what about the people who say, “Get out of there! What are you thinking?” Lauer asked.
“I was there because, again, I loved him and you can not just turn off a switch and decide, ‘He betrayed me, he deceived me, I’m going to just walk away from it and I don’t love him anymore,’ “ she said. “It doesn’t happen that way. Your emotions don’t change overnight. I had always supported him. That’s what I knew and that’s why I was there. It’s different for everyone. I assume [Suzanne Craig] was there because she loves her husband.”
Beyond that, she knew there would be questions if she hadn’t stood by her man in his most difficult hour.
“I was there because one, I had not done anything wrong and I didn’t want people to speculate as to why I wasn’t there,” she said. “Also, I didn’t want in the future for my daughter to look back on the events of that day and ask me, ‘Mommy, why weren’t you there for Daddy on the most difficult day of his life?’ “
Asked what advice she has for Suzanne Craig, Dina McGreevey said: “The most important piece of advice is not to beat yourself up and don’t listen to the criticism because it’s very easy for someone who’s on the outside who has not walked in her shoes to say, ‘She should have done this. She should have done that, and she shouldn’t have been there.’
“Unless you’ve walked in that person’s shoes, you shouldn’t judge them.”