COLUMBIA -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings apologized Thursday for disparaging comments he made about Republican challenger Bob Inglis that included a profanity.
Mr. Hollings had made his remarks Wednesday in a meeting with the editorial board of The Herald newspaper in Rock Hill.
"In retrospect, I would not use that kind of language. That is totally inappropriate and I am sorry for it," Mr. Hollings said in a statement late Thursday. Hollings spokesman Robert Gibbs said the senator, who seeks a seventh term, would have no further comment.
This wasn't the first time Mr. Hollings' sharp tongue has gotten him into trouble. He once called U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, the "senator from the B'nai B'rith." Apologizing, Mr. Hollings said the remark was made in fun and he did not mean to offend Mr. Metzenbaum, who is Jewish.
Mr. Hollings' statement Thursday said his comments reflected "my growing frustrations with the gross distortions of my record and the callous accusations that have been leveled against me from the onset of this campaign."
Mr. Inglis, a three-term congressman, heard the apology late Thursday and said the name-calling was "a regrettable development." He said he appreciated the apology, but didn't like the way it was delivered.
"I find apologies are most sincere when they aren't coupled with further attacks," he said. "I wish the senator had simply regretted his words rather than combining it with a further attack. I don't know what he means by `callous accusations."'
Mr. Inglis said he thought Mr. Hollings made the comments because he was upset after a candidate forum Tuesday in Greer.
"The Greer forum did not go well for the senator," Mr. Inglis said. "I assume he was still reacting to that experience."
Mr. Hollings told the newspaper he thought Mr. Inglis was being dishonest with voters by drastically underestimating the federal deficit. Mr. Hollings contends there can be no real surplus until the federal debt is eliminated.
"He finesses all around," Mr. Hollings told The Herald. "He is Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. He's all around the damn clock, so oozing and goozing and such a nice little choirboy and so pleasant, and everybody's rude, and he wants to be courteous. He is a (profanity) skunk. I can tell you that right now."
Mr. Inglis agreed with the choirboy characterization. The remarks also reflect badly on South Carolinians, Mr. Inglis said, "but it's not unlike what he said to The Wall Street Journal."
Mr. Hollings told that newspaper "Kiss my fanny," when asked about Mr. Inglis' proposed contract for a courteous campaign. His remarks were reported Oct. 5.
In June, Mr. Inglis asked Mr. Hollings to sign the contract that included inviting each other to news conferences and providing each opponent with the first copy of the other's news releases.
On Wednesday, Mr. Hollings said he dismissed Mr. Inglis' contract because he thought the congressman was already playing dirty politics.
Mr. Inglis said he could understand Mr. Hollings' objections and blamed the dirty campaigning on others. "Our allies and his allies have been particularly low in the way that they've advertised," Mr. Inglis said.
However, Mr. Inglis has labeled Mr. Hollings as arrogant. Mr. Hollings responded, "If I'm arrogant, he wins first prize."
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