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A Jim Slattery for Senate staffer apologized Tuesday afternoon for a blast e-mail that included obscene language about Sen. Pat Roberts.
Ian Staples, Slattery's campaign deputy communications director, blamed a computer malfunction that sent out a message soliciting negative stories about Roberts, a Republican seeking his third Senate term.
It included a fictitious quote from a Dodge City resident that said: "Pat Roberts ... is an a---hole." Staples, a graduate of Kansas University and Free State High School, said he puts in place-holder quotes while composing his thoughts for drafts.
But Staples said the system malfunctioned and sent out an old draft version under another staffer's name.
"Technical issues on the part of our software vendor are no excuse for my behavior, and I take full responsibility and ask for your forgiveness in this matter," Staples wrote in his apology.
Christian Morgan, executive director for the Kansas Republican Party, said the Slattery staffer "wrote these words deliberately. Now they are upset because they got caught."
"(Slattery) could have stepped up to the plate personally like a statesman and taken responsibility for his staff and the climate of name-calling and childishness he has fostered," Morgan said in a news release. "Instead, he and his team chose to throw a junior staffer under the bus and hoped no one would notice."
Abbie Hodgson, the Slattery campaign's communications director, said she called the Roberts campaign to apologize after the message went out. She said Slattery asked to call Roberts personally to apologize, but Roberts staffers indicated that would not be necessary.
"I, Jim Slattery and the campaign think that the comment was completely inappropriate," Hodgson said.
"As a U.S. senator from Kansas, Pat Roberts deserves greater respect than what was given," she added.
Hodgson said Tuesday evening that Staples was still with the campaign.
Roberts campaign spokeswoman Molly Haase said Tuesday, "My only comment is I have seen it, and we have no comment."
The two campaigns have traded barbs in recent months. On Monday, Slattery, a former Democratic congressman, challenged Roberts to four more debates, instead of the three that were planned.
The Roberts campaign said Slattery would not debate his primary opponent, but now he wants more debates with Roberts.