Wednesday, October 20, 2004
As Kentucky’s Democratic Senate candidate Dr. Daniel Mongiardo displays increasing electibility and a heftier campaign war chest thanks to a $466,000 gift from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, embattled 72-year-old incumbent junior Senator Jim Bunning angrily, if warily, emerged from his self-imposed campaign isolation, today, to accuse his opponent of spreading the type of “disgusting” rumor more commonly associated with the Hall of Famer’s own re-election campaign.
Speaking to a handpicked crowd of “business leaders” and local Republican officials in the northern Kentucky city of Florence, the citizen-shy Senator accused his opponent of statements actually leveled, last week, in a Louisville Courier-Journal editorial.
As reported by Bruce Schreiner of the Associated Press:
U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning…fired at his Democratic opponent Wednesday, accusing him of spreading "disgusting" rumors that the incumbent is mentally incompetent…[and] charged that Daniel Mongiardo's campaign conducted a "push-poll" that asked respondents: "Did you hear that Jim Bunning was mentally incompetent to run for the U.S. Senate?"…Contacted by The Associated Press, Mongiardo denied Bunning's accusation as "just another absurd comment," but questioned his opponent's reclusiveness during the campaign and his "bizarre conduct."
The Courier-Journal editorial, dated October 14, 2004, said:
His attacks…and the outrageous statements he has made in his rare public appearances are giving voters pause. They are raising questions about Sen. Bunning's suitability for office…is his increasing belligerence an indication of something worse? Has Sen. Bunning drifted into territory that indicates a serious health concern? His latest blast is the most outlandish so far. He accused Dr. Mongiardo…of "trying to abuse my wife" at Fancy Farm last summer…As his wild statements mount and he increasingly isolates himself, small things take on great significance…There is, of course, an easy way for Sen. Bunning to end what has become national speculation about his fitness. He could call press conferences throughout the state, stand before the public and say, "Here I am. Ask me questions. You'll see how fit I am."
The irate former Detroit Tiger and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, who forbade a studio audience and broke mutually agreed upon rules in an October 11th statewide Debate telecast, indirectly admitted that he has not campaigned in Kentucky since August.
According to the Associated Press:
Bunning's campaign has relied on his name recognition…his conservatism and a huge campaign war chest that has allowed him to run a television ad blitz.
CNN, meanwhile, is reporting that national Democratic leaders, smelling an upset of finely laid Rovian plans, have not only plied Mongiardo with a large DSCC contribution but are hinting that they will enter the last inning of the televised fray with their own commercials.
The Senator, today, while not commenting on reports of $10,006 illegally acquired Tom Delay PAC dollars, promised to conduct a 30 county bus tour next week.
So, across the state, Kentuckians are poised for more electoral fireworks as we approach the home stretch of this less than perfectly pitched political ball game.
Images: bunningforsenate.org, University of Kentucky, AP