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Hatch denies making Republican whore comment

DFL governor candidate Mike Hatch denied Friday in an interview with WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D., that he called a Forum Communications reporter a "Republican whore."...

DFL governor candidate Mike Hatch denied Friday in an interview with WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D., that he called a Forum Communications reporter a "Republican whore."

"My recollection was that I said he was acting like a political hack," Hatch told reporters Friday, the Star Tribune reported on its Web site.

Hatch's campaign spokesman did not immediately return calls to the News Tribune Friday.

In a telephone interview Thursday with Forum Communications reporter Scott Wente, Hatch grew irritated with questions about a political gaffe by his running mate, Judi Dutcher, about the ethanol fuel issue. He eventually told Wente, "You're nothing more than a Republican whore. Goodbye," before hanging up on him.

Also Thursday Hatch made sharp comments to a KSTP-TV reporter asking about the E-85 issue, then blasted Stanley Hubbard, owner of Hubbard Broadcasting, which operates WDIO-TV in Duluth and KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities, for Hubbard's contribution to a third-party political action committee spending of millions of dollars on anti-Hatch ads in the last days of the campaign. Hatch implied that Hubbard's political leanings were affecting his station's neutrality in reporting.

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He later told reporters in St. Paul that he had made some "inappropriate responses" to reporters in defense of Dutcher.

Republicans jumped Friday on Hatch's display of temper, calling it an example of why he shouldn't be elected governor.

"With one word, Mike Hatch offended all of Minnesota. By calling a newspaper reporter a

Β·'whore,' the angry, slash-and-burn Hatch that he's tried to hide over the past year has finally been revealed. Hatch has a long history bullying and attacking those who question him," said Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey. "Hatch's latest blow-up shows he doesn't have the temperament to lead our state."

In interviews with a News Tribune reporter earlier this year, Hatch had lamented what he called a conservative, pro-Republican bent of Forum Communications and its owner, Bill Marcil of Fargo. The company purchased the Duluth News Tribune in June.

Don Davis, Forum Communications Capitol bureau chief, said he doesn't know if Hatch was referring to Wente personally or to the parent company's political leanings.

"We know he said it. But I'm not going to try to read anyone's mind" about what he meant, Davis said, adding that the accuracy of the quote is not in question.

The conflict started when Dutcher told an Alexandria TV reporter Thursday that she didn't know what E-85 was. Republicans and political reporters jumped on the statement, questioning how a candidate for lieutenant governor could not know about the corn-based ethanol fuel made in Minnesota.

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The issue came up only marginally Friday when Hatch fielded questions from the public during a live broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. Two listeners called to say they questioned Hatch's ability to control his temper.

Hatch's comments show "a lack of statesmanship and appropriate behavior from anyone who is going to be a leader of a state," the caller to MPR said.

Hatch and Republican incumbent Tim Pawlenty are locked in a bitter and very tight race. Polls show them just a few points apart, with Hatch holding a slight lead, just four days before the election.

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