By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE - Daniel Mongiardo stressed his opposition to gay marriage Thursday while accusing Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of fueling personal attacks against him in the closing days of their bitter race.
In a speech to a Rotary club, Mongiardo talked about his Christian upbringing and accused Bunning and his "henchmen" of spreading "outrageous lies" about him that he called "un-Christian." He said Bunning "needs to get his campaign and himself under control."
"These are the despicable attacks of a desperate senator who is dangerously out of touch with reality," Mongiardo said.
Bunning surrogate David Williams, the Kentucky Senate president, in recent days referred to Mongiardo, a 44-year-old bachelor, as a "limp wrist."
Williams has said he meant no sexual connotation. He insisted he was speaking in athletic parlance by saying that Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, is still capable of "throwing that hard pitch from the mound."
Another Republican state senator, Elizabeth Tori, declared Wednesday that Mongiardo "is not a gentleman," and then added of her Senate colleague, "I'm not even sure the word 'man' applies to him."
After Mongiardo's Rotary speech, a reporter asked Mongiardo if he was gay.
Mongiardo replied, "No," and later quipped, "I'm hoping all this attention will get me a couple of dates."
Bunning didn't respond when asked Thursday whether he condoned the remarks by Williams and Tori, the Senate majority whip. Bunning said he did not ask them to stop making the comments.
"Are you asking me to tell David Williams how to speak? Oh my goodness. No, I don't even attempt to do that," Bunning told reporters in Madisonville.
Mongiardo, a doctor from the Appalachian town of Hazard, said that if elected, he would support a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. As a legislator, he co-sponsored a similar measure on Kentucky's ballot that would insert a gay-marriage ban into Kentucky's Constitution.
"I was raised in a Christian home," Mongiardo said in his speech to about 300 Rotary club members.
Meanwhile, Bunning, 73, continued to tout his allegiance to President Bush in western Kentucky.
If re-elected, Bunning said, he would "help George W. Bush lead the free world and help him keep this country on course."
Bunning accused Mongiardo of spreading lies questioning his mental capacity for the job. Mongiardo called the accusation ridiculous.
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