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Talent won't fire spokesman who compared Auditor to "cheap hooker"

September 27, 2000
By: Clayton Bellamy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Jim Talent, Republican candidate for governor, said Wednesday he would not seek the termination of the party's spokesman after the flack compared State Auditor Claire McCaskill to "a cheap hooker."

And for the second day in a row, Sen. John Ashcroft did not respond to the Democrats' call that the spokesman, Daryl Duwe, be fired.

"I'm not going to call for his dismissal," Talent told Jefferson City's KLIK radio.

To justify his position, Talent borrowed a line Democrats used during the Monica Lewkinsky scandal.

"What is it that (GOP executive director) John Hancock said? He said he doesn't think it arises to the level of an impeachable offense," Talent told the station from Washington.

In St. Louis and Kansas City news conferences, female politicians -- including a Republican city councilwoman in Kansas City -- expressed their dismay at Duwe's characterization. Letters McCaskill wrote to Talent and Ashcroft asking them to sack Duwe were distributed.

The controversy stems from an article Duwe wrote on his own company's website, missourigrapevine.com, saying "McCaskill let Democrats parade her around like a cheap hooker." Democrats responded by calling on Ashcroft, Talent and GOP state chairwoman Ann Wagner to fire Duwe.

Duwe's article was referring to McCaskill's appearance in an ad for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Holden. The ad rebuts Talent's contention that not all state gambling revenue is going to schools.

Late Tuesday, Duwe replaced the word "hooker" from the article on his website with "politician." The new word is in red, which stands out prominently among the article's black lettering. Following "politician," Duwe interjected this phrase:

"(NOTE: the word "politician" was inserted to replace another word deemed "out of bounds" by the First Amendment Nullification Committee of the Missouri Democratic Party)."

In her letter to Talent and Ashcroft, McCaskill writes about how her three children could "logically link" from the GOP's official website to Duwe's article, an article whose headline reads, "McCaskill soils herself."

Said Republican Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar in a phone interview: "There seems to be a double standard emerging in the Republican party and it troubles me. I've seen it first hand."

Loar, who appeared at the news conference in Kansas City, ran for the open 6th congressional district this year and lost in the primary to state Sen. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio.

She said the Republican National Committee recruited her to run against incumbent Pat Danner but dropped her after Danner left the race, preferring instead the conservative Graves. She conceded the party's preference of Graves may have been as much about ideology as it was about gender.

At the news conference in St. Louis, Secretary of State Bekki Cook, often a target of Duwe's website commentary, said Republicans should pay the price at the polls for keeping Duwe, according to the Associated Press.

Some female Republican state lawmakers said Duwe's comment was innapropriate but paled in comparison to McCaskill appearance in the ad

"I think that he could have chosen his words better," Rep. Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods said. "But I'm more offended that she was paraded around by the boys, Bob Holden and Mel Carnahan, to carry their political water."