WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jim Bunning blasted his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for trying to stock his own campaign war chest in the midst of the junior senator's fundraising efforts for the 2010 race.
"My senior senator also sent out his first mailing for 2014. Just as I refrained from doing it for two years, he sent out his, so you know where he stands," Bunning told reporters Tuesday during a telephone press conference.
For the past few months, Bunning has had increasingly testy exchanges with members of the Republican leadership and the media as both questioned whether the senator can mount a strong bid for a third term.
As the end of the first quarter campaign filing period draws to a close, the tension has grown palpable.
Bunning lashed out at reporters for questioning whether he would meet fundraising goals by the end of this quarter. Bunning quipped that he considered July 1st a better benchmark but that some media would scrutinize his fundraising in the interim, talk to unnamed sources and use the information to suit their own purposes.
"Three sources my ass," Bunning said. "Pardon me if there's ladies on, I apologize."
Bunning's campaign reported having about $150,000 on hand as of the most recent Federal Election Commission filing -- far less than the $1 million to $2 million that political experts suggest Bunning would need by the end of the first quarter to mount a successful run.
During Tuesday's call, Bunning again suggested that Republican leaders are trying to recruit a challenger. Last month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee told the Washington Post that a meeting with state Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, was a "courtesy visit" and that the party "would back Bunning in a contested primary" -- a position the NRSC chairman, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, has repeatedly stressed.
Bunning has complained that comments by McConnell and Cornyn questioning the junior senator's re-election plans undermine his campaign efforts. Bunning said he has not since spoken with Cornyn and only exchanged a brief greeting with McConnell during a recent political dinner.
Earlier this month, Bunning cursed at reporters during a telephone press call and refused to release the results of an internal political poll. The poll results are "none of your goddamn business," Bunning told reporters.
When a reporter asked if Bunning's decision to keep the poll numbers private infers that he isn't happy with the results, he responded: "You are going to infer any damn thing you choose, so why should I try to influence it?"
A similar exchange took place last month when Bunning denied media reports that he'll resign from the Senate if he continues to face obstacles in his 2010 re-election bid. According to reports in several publications, Bunning told lobbyists at a National Mining Association fundraiser in Washington that he would resign if he is unable to raise money and garner broader support in his campaign for a third term.
"It's not true. I intend to fulfill my obligation to the people of Kentucky. If you are going to write something like this, you'd better make your sources known because they are lying," Bunning said of the anonymous reports that appeared in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere.