Thursday, April 8, 2004

Mongiardo asks for videotape of Bunning speech

'Dead issue,' senator's team says

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - State Sen. Daniel Mongiardo made a personal appeal Wednesday for U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning to release a videotape of a speech in which Bunning said Mongiardo looks like one of Saddam Hussein's sons.

Mongiardo, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against the incumbent Republican, said he believes Kentuckians deserve to judge for themselves whether Bunning's remark was appropriate.

"I'm not interested in an apology," Mongiardo said. "Being in Kentucky politics, I've come to expect this kind of thing. This cuts much deeper. It's about honesty and integrity."

Mongiardo said Bunning's campaign first denied that he made the remark and now is "hiding behind a cloak of silence."

Bunning made the remark March 20 at the annual 4th Congressional District Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner at the Hilton hotel in Florence.

Bunning's speech was videotaped, but Bunning campaign manager David Young declined to make the tape of Bunning's speech available.

Young said Wednesday that Bunning has apologized for the remark and will not make any further comments on the matter.

"This is just a dead issue to us," he said. "For the 10th time, we're sorry."

Mongiardo, 43, a physician from the Appalachian town of Hazard whose parents emigrated from Italy, is competing in the Democratic primary with David Lynn Williams of Glasgow, a perennial candidate who is not running an active campaign.

Bunning, 72, is seeking a second six-year term in the Senate. He is opposed in the May 18 primary election by former state Sen. Barry Metcalf of Richmond, whom he defeated in the 1998 primary.

"I was born in Hazard, Kentucky, on the Fourth of July," Mongiardo said Wednesday. "You don't get much more American than that."

In his 2002 campaign for state Senate, Mongiardo accused Republican Johnnie L. Turner of Harlan of using bigotry and racism in an ad that showed Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta.

Mongiardo said the ad made a point of showing that he and Atta both had dark eyes, black hair and olive complexions.

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