JEFFERSON CITY - After the state's GOP spokesman compared State Auditor Claire McCaskill to a "cheap hooker," the Missouri Democratic Party's top official called on Republican leaders Tuesday to sack the flak.
"This type of vicious personal attack has no place in political discourse," said Joe Carmichael, the Missouri Democratic Party's Chairman, in a statement. "I call on (Republican leaders) to publicly apologize to Ms. McCaskill and to terminate (the spokesman)."
Attempts to reach the Republicans targeted in the call were unsuccessful.
The controversy stems from an article the spokesman, Daryl Duwe, wrote Friday on his Internet newsletter, missourigrapevine.com.
"State Auditor Claire McCaskill let the Democrats parade her around like a cheap hooker" when she appeared in a political ad, he wrote Friday.
Duwe said McCaskill as auditor should always remain independent during political skirmishes. So when she appeared in Democrat gubernatorial candidate Bob Holden's ad on education funding, he said, she allowed her independence, and its attendant credibility, to be used for one side.
In the ad, McCaskill rebuts GOP candidate for govenor Jim Talent's contention that not all of the state's gambling revenue is going to the schools.
Duwe invoked the First Amendment when defending his words, saying he can say whatever he wants on his own Web site. He went on to say that his articles on the site do not "at all reflect the opinion of the Republican party."
Roy Temple, executive director of the state Democratic Party, agrees Duwe is protected by free speech, but that's not the issue.
"Daryl has a right to say whatever he wants. The question is whether the Republicans want him to be their spokesman," he said.
The Democrats called on Talent, GOP U.S. Senate candidate John Ashcroft and party chairwoman Ann Wagner to end all dealings the party has with Duwe.
Even though McCaskill was the target of the remark she had little to say.
"It's hard to believe coming from me, but I am at a loss for words," she said. When pressed, she added: "Obviously, it's offensive. If he worked for me, I'd fire him."
She told the Associated Press that she would send Talent and Ashcroft letters expressing her dismay at the comment later this week.
Although Duwe stopped short of saying he regretted using the language, he said the words have backfired.
"I don't want the issue to be lost in over-heated rhetoric from the Democrats," he said. "I could have used less colorful terminolgy."
He said no one from the party had contacted him about his employment, but he said if it were necessary, he would step down.
"If I felt at all I had become a distraction, I'd take care of it myself," he said.
The GOP has traditionally had difficulty attracting female voters -- a large part of the reason the party lost the 1992 presidential election. Duwe's remarks can't help, Temple said.
"I think it makes it more difficult to appeal to women when people with the party have those attitudes," he said.