A U.S. Senate candidate in Washington state said Tuesday he's not apologizing for telling a local reporter to "go f--k yourself" -- and said the reporter "had it coming."
Republican hopeful Michael Baumgartner acknowledged to the Associated Press he sent the emailed directive to reporter Josh Feit of the Seattle political blog PubliCola following an interview about Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. A written statement from Baumgartner's campaign indicated he sent it out of frustration that more media attention was being given to Akin's controversial rape comments instead of Baumgartner's platform of ending the war in Afghanistan.
The statement did include an apology for Baumgartner's "strong language" -- but the candidate seemed to retract it during an interview with local news station KIRO-TV.
"Let me just say, Josh had it coming in this email, and I don't apologize," Baumgartner, a state senator, told KIRO. "Look, it's a naughty word. It doesn't amount to a whole lot."
Feit said he received the email from Baumgartner Monday night containing a photo of Baumgartner with someone who recently died in Afghanistan.
"Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go (expletive) yourself," the email stated.
Feit said he tried unsuccessfully to reach the Baumgartner campaign after receiving the email. He said during their interview about Akin's comments -- prompted because Baumgartner has similarly strict anti-abortion views -- the candidate expressed frustration that more attention wasn't being given to the war in Afghanistan. Baumgartner previously did diplomatic work in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the AP.
"The issue here is not whether a bad word was said or not," Baumgartner told KIRO. "Maybe it angers people, maybe it doesn't. Trust me, the guy had it coming. The issue here is the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the complete lack of leadership of bringing that war to a close."
Baumgartner is running to unseat Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.