OLYMPIA — A U.S. Senate candidate frustrated by the lack of focus on the war in Afghanistan apologized Tuesday for telling a reporter to “go (expletive) yourself” after an interview about beleaguered Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin.
Republican hopeful Michael Baumgartner told The Associated Press that the vulgar email was a personal note to Seattle-based political blog PubliCola. In the message, Baumgartner included a photo of someone who recently died in Afghanistan. The reporter, Josh Feit, later posted the photo and email comment on the site.
Feit interviewed Baumgartner on Monday about the widely disparaged comments by Akin on the issue of rape. He said Baumgartner briefly expressed frustration about the lack of focus on the war in Afghanistan but that the email was a surprise.
Feit said he tried unsuccessfully to reach out to Baumgartner several times following the email.
Baumgartner declined to discuss what prompted him to send the note, but he reiterated in an AP interview that he didn’t think the media was giving proper attention to the war. Baumgartner is a state senator who previously did diplomatic work in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the prominent messages of his campaign has been to end the war in Afghanistan and stop American casualties there.
“The problem is that many media outlets, including PubliCola, do not want to talk about why these men and women continue to be killed,” he said in a statement Tuesday. He apologized to Feit for using “strong language.”
In his note to PubliCola, Baumgartner included a photo of Patrick Feeks, a Navy SEAL who recently died in Afghanistan. Baumgartner’s campaign previously posted a photo on social media — a post that has since been removed — saying that Feeks was the best friend of one of Baumgartner’s friends.
The photo showed Baumgartner and Feeks, who is from of Edgewater, Md., carrying guns and body armor.
Baumgartner declined to discuss Feeks, saying he doesn’t want to make a political statement out of his relationship with the SEAL.
Akin’s comments in the Missouri Senate race — in which he said women’s bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” — has drawn widespread outrage from Republicans nationally. Rob McKenna, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in Washington state, said Tuesday that the remarks disqualified Akin from holding high office.
Baumgartner told PubliCola that Akin’s comments were “inexcusable and stupid and ignorant.” Baumgartner opposes abortion.
Baumgartner has been struggling to gain traction in his campaign against Democratic U.S. Maria Cantwell. She won the primary earlier this month with 56 percent of the vote. Cantwell also has $2.1 million in cash ready to spend on the campaign, compared to $182,000 for Baumgartner.