An openly gay staffer from Howard Dean's presidential campaign was reportedly pushed and grabbed by staffers at a rally for presidential candidate Dick Gephardt in Iowa on Tuesday, one of whom called him a "faggot," according to a Dean campaign press release. It is common practice among campaign staffers to attend events for other candidates so that they can report on what opposing candidates are saying, said Dorie Clark from the Dean for America press office.
In response to the alleged attack, Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, wrote a letter to Gephardt's campaign manager, Steve Murphy, calling on him to find the staffer responsible and fire him. "You and I have known each other for quite some time, and we both have a long history with Dick Gephardt," Trippi wrote. "This behavior from a campaign staff member is beyond the pale. Democrats, including Congressman Gephardt, are fighting this sort of bigotry in the hearts and minds of Americans as well as in our laws. The fact that the congressman's own staff member would use a slur like this goes directly against the values and goals of our party."
Kim Molstre, a spokesperson for Gephardt's campaign, told The Advocate that a Dean staffer was at the event and had to be escorted outside, adding that no derogatory statements had been made. "If it had been true, which it's not, that staffer would have been fired," she said. "There was someone [from the Dean campaign] at the event and they got unruly and they were escorted outside. But that word was never said."