By Lori Burling
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE - Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Nunn said Tuesday that he changed his mind and will not fire an attorney who compared opponent Ernie Fletcher to Yasser Arafat.
"He recognizes his mistakes," Nunn said at a news conference.
Sam Manly, a Louisville attorney, made the comparison in an appellate brief in a lawsuit in which Nunn's running mate, Bob Heleringer, seeks to have Fletcher removed from the ballot for the May 20 primary.
Heleringer - and by extension Nunn - claims Fletcher is ineligible because his first running mate, Hunter Bates, was disqualified for failing to meet constitutional residency requirements.
A Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled in Fletcher's favor. Manly's brief to the Court of Appeals invoked Arafat to impugn Fletcher's credibility on the witness stand.
"Partisan politics aside, Ernie Fletcher, although rather more personable, was no more credible than Yasser Arafat," Manly wrote.
Nunn, caught by surprise, apologized to Fletcher on Saturday and said he had ordered the attorney fired. On Tuesday, Nunn said he had changed his mind. "We're going to move on," he said.
Fletcher's campaign spokesman, Wes Irvin, said he was "disappointed that Steve didn't keep his word on that." Fletcher said Nunn hurt his own credibility.
Also Tuesday, Nunn questioned the whereabouts of Fletcher and another Republican rival, Rebecca Jackson.
"I ask the people to name one substantial issue they've offered a solution for," he said. He then ticked off 16 forums within the last 40 days that he said Fletcher, a congressman from Lexington, had not attended.
Nunn said he suspected Fletcher and Jackson had attended more fund-raisers than events where state issues have been discussed.
Nunn was the only Republican candidate at a forum on Medicaid and long-term care that AARP and two other organizations sponsored Monday night in Frankfort.
Irvin said Fletcher was at "town hall" meetings, not fund-raisers, that had been scheduled in Bullitt and Shelby counties since January. The AARP invitation came later, and the organization would not permit Fletcher to send a stand-in, Irvin said.
Fletcher has had to "strike that balance" between congressional duties in Washington and the demands of campaigning, Irvin said.
Jackson had agreed to participate in the AARP forum but canceled for the funeral of her mother-in-law.
Nunn also said Tuesday that campaign spots on radio and television would begin statewide soon but offered no more details.
SPECIAL REPORT: CINCINNATI SCHOOLS
Erratic budgets let schools deteriorate
School built in 1876 near the end of its life
Tiny gym leaves team always the visitors
Old electrical systems stretched to capacity
Cramped quarters, crowded buildings
Wanted: a little grass, more room to play
Parents worry about lead paint in schools
History of inconsistency
IN THE TRISTATE
Police want out of race accord
Agreement's yield: Contention
Settlements at a glance
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Morgue photos letter revealed
Football Classic lacking stadium
Bank One releases condo liens
Obituary: Austin M. Wright, 80, writer, teacher
Tristate A.M. Report
SMITH AMOS: A second chance
BRONSON: FOP quits
KORTE: City Hall
HOWARD: Some Good News
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Health costs jump for Warren inmates
Time ripe for ammonia theft
Levy would maintain buildings
Fernald to hold last tour for public
County seeks to preserve rare bridge
Ohio executes inmate 18 years after slaying
Gays win expanded rights coverage
Eatery reopens after slaying
Bob Woodward, 2 politicos to lecture at NKU this fall
Candidates endorse choice of care type covered by Medicaid
Slain Chicago police officer remembered
Police: Ex-boyfriend shot to death high school senior, self
Moonlite Bar matriarch dead at 83
Nunn wants to 'move on'
Police: 3 men shot to death, dumped in Kentucky River