(CNN) - U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Florida, returned to work on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first time after pleading guilty to cocaine possession last November.
He repeatedly apologized for his actions and insisted he's not yet thinking about re-election to another term.
"I cannot express how sorry I am. I ask for your forgiveness. I've let down our entire country. I have let down my colleagues on both side of the aisle. I've let down my family," an emotional Radel said in a brief session with reporters in his office on Capitol Hill, his voice often halting.
Radel, who was known for his casual demeanor and his accessibility to reporters, appeared stoic and stuck with a serious message that he wanted to earn back his reputation, which was crushed by his bust in an undercover sting last fall.
The former television anchor avoided cameras and national media and made a brief statement inside his office, with his aides insisting his comments be off-camera.
"In front of a U.S. Representative's name, they often put the word 'honorable,' and I will work hard every day to restore that honor - rebuilding trust and making amends, with our country, my constituents, my colleagues, my wife and my 2-year-old."
Radel flatly declared that "re-election is the absolute last thing on my mind." But he'll need to address questions about his political future soon. According to the Tampa Bay Times, former state representative Paige Kreegel announced he will challenge Radel in the GOP primary in August.
Radel told reporters he hasn't talked to House Speaker John Boehner since he completed his treatment program for substance abuse in Florida, but he said he has a meeting scheduled with Boehner later this week.
Although he declined to detail his treatment plans while he is serving in Washington, Radel made several references suggesting he was participating in a 12-step program created by Alcoholics Anonymous. Although Radel was arrested for drug possession last fall, he said afterward that his bigger struggle was with alcohol abuse.
"I have an incredible network both at home and right here in Washington, and this is something I will continue to work on for the rest of my life. I will take it one day at a time, and in doing so, I hope to rebuild and regain trust one day at a time," Radel said.
CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report
Just another family values hypocrite in need of unemployment. MESSAGE.
That's standard procedure for politicians caught with drugs. Admit addiction....to the one legal drug. He is definitely running again and probably will stay on the cocaine. Its a business for polished liars and drug addicts are le creme de la creme of liars.
This coke head should do the 'honorable' thing and resign NOW!
I wish the people had a say in this.... He should be fired... PERIOD
He should be booted from the House. He broke the law and should be spending time in jail for it.
Not bad enough that he disgraced himself and his family....He is a disgrace to the country and its government. But then just one more member of the GOTP to whom the laws of the land do not apply.
Why isn't this guy in jail?
Given second chances are rare, people often aren't willing to give the compassion they expect from others, good luck .
Hey coke head GET OUT !! Enough said.
Is this kind of person you want in office ?
Congress doesn't do anything, isn't he worried he will get bored and...
I was wondering how long CNN would take to tag this guy as a Republican. 1 sentence.
Compare that to Jesse Jackson Jr. or Bob Filner? both democrats and both served in the House of Representatives.
No party ID for these guys.
And if he was a inner city drug user he would be in prison and or un able to get a job becuase of his drug record
I am not even sure why this fool is not in jail for buying cocaine from an undercover policeman!
Who says Animal Farm is not alive and well in the world of the rich and powerful?
He's not looking for re election? He should have resigned. If this had been a Democrat he wouldn't have come back because the teaklans and repugs, those fake christians, would have made sure he paid for his sins.
GOP and their puff–shame, shame.
He's put in November along with the rest of the GOP teaparty clowns done here in Florida . Rubio , yahoo, radal, Scott for sure and the rest of the teaparty extremest legislature of the GOP .
This GOP teaparty idiot is a goner and is just hanging around to qualify for his full taxpayer funded pension after ONE year of service. Replace this party animal with a dem and get Florida moving again.we remember the lines you caused Scott trying to rigg the election for Romney the tax cheat!!!!!
Rick Scott, Trey Radel, and Marco Rubio, are true representatives of the tea bagger party. They bring their expertise to government : Medicaid scammer, alcoholic drug user, and campaign fund abuser.
Too bad Trey didn't get caught in FL for buying his choice of drugs. He would be looking at 15 years.
Radal is just trying to qualify for his full pension after ONE year of service at taxpayers exspence . FULlL PENSION after one year of service, that's a national disgrace!!!!
"I am not even sure why this fool is not in jail for buying cocaine from an undercover policeman!"
While I don't think that this guy should be in office and should resign you are out of your mind if you think someone should go to jail for buying cocaine for personal use. Does the name Patrick Kennedy ring a bell for you? Your comment demonstrates that you are not a serious thinker and nothing more than a partisan hack.
Thousands of Americans are in prison for the samething he gets busted for and he doesn't spend one night in jail. Am I the only one that has a problem with this? This is pathetic!!!!
Why hasn't this man resigned? Because he's a Republican.
Why aren't Democrats making loud noises about him resigning? Because they're Democrats.