(LOUISVILLE, April 2nd, 2004, 11:30 a.m.) -- The campaign of Kentucky state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo said Thursday he is not satisfied with an apology by U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, who said Mongiardo looks like one of Saddam Hussein's sons.
Mongiardo, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against the incumbent Republican, called for the public release of a videotape from a recent GOP event at which Bunning made the remark.
"The fact that Jim Bunning finds ethnic slurs amusing shows how out of touch he is with Kentucky voters," said Jody Lassiter, Mongiardo's campaign manager.
After first denying the remark, Bunning's campaign said Wednesday it was a joke.
"We're sorry if this joke, which got a lot of laughs, offended anyone," Bunning campaign manager David Young said.
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 Young declined to make the tape of Bunning's speech available.
When asked why he had denied the statements previously, Young said, "I was shopped a quote last week about what was said, and it was not a true quote."
Mongiardo's campaign said that he had received no call from Bunning and that he should make the tape available so people can judge his comments for themselves.
"Senator Bunning is having a lot of trouble being honest," Lassiter said. "First he denies saying anything, but now he admits making ethnic slurs about Dan Mongiardo. He admits that he has a tape, but won't let the people of Kentucky see it. What does he have to hide?"
A spokesman for Bunning said Thursday the senator would not comment about the remark.
Mongiardo spokesman Eric Niloff said "a half-hearted apology from his campaign manager is no apology at all. Jim Bunning needs to come clean, show the people of Kentucky the tape and let them decide whether or not that's funny."
Mongiardo, 43, a physician from the Appalachian town of Hazard whose parents emigrated from Italy, is running in the Democratic primary against David Lynn Williams of Glasgow, a perennial candidate who is not running an active campaign.
"The remarks by Sen. Bunning are the type of remarks that shouldn't be made by anyone, much less one of the highest elected public officials in the state," Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Bill Garmer said Thursday.
"There is nothing funny about ethnic slurs," Garmer said. "Bunning should be ashamed of himself, but instead he wants to say he was merely joking."
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.
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.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)