Schweikert's campaign is not backing down from the controversial mailer it issued on Friday, which characterizes Quayle as someone who "goes both ways." The campaign says the wording refers to his flip-flops on important issues.
But the Quayle campaign slammed Schweikert over the mailer, which it says has sexual undertones in its use of a term — going both ways — that normally refers to bisexuality. Though the campaign could not be reached for comment, Quayle spokeswoman Anna Haberlein told the Tucson Citizen that the mailer was a "sleazy smear tactic."
And, on Monday, the campaign released a response from Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) calling the mailer "an example of the worst in American politics" and calling for its condemnation and an apology from Schweikert.
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"It not only misrepresents Ben Quayle’s positions on important issues, it includes what can only be described as the strangest of allusions to sexuality that have no place in a political debate. Such campaign tactics insult the voters, degrade politics and expose those who stoop to them as unworthy of high office," Kyl said in the statement.
But Schweikert has no plans to apologize, Baker said, asserting that the Quayle campaign is reading too deeply into an innocuous mailer.
"The Quayle campaign should get their minds out of the gutter, but we're not surprised they would think that way. He's more experienced in more risque stuff than we are," Baker said.
By "risque stuff," Baker explained, he meant the racy website Quayle wrote for before he joined Congress, something that Quayle dismissed during his 2010 campaign as "much ado about nothing" in an interview with Fox Business Network.
The Schweikert campaign also featured that "risque stuff" in a new television ad out this weekend, which slams Quayle for voting to raise taxes, plagiarizing a bill and hurting Republicans by challenging Schweikert in the 6th district instead of his home district.
The two lawmakers are locked in a heated primary battle. The most recent poll out of the district primary gives Schweikert a double-digit lead on Quayle. Baker said this bad news for the Quayle campaign might factor into its reaction to the mailer.
"Their desire to make it something that it's not is unfortunate, but I think also reflective of their campaign. I think they're in a desperate state right now," he said.
The primary is Aug. 28.