Former Colorado senator Gary Hart said yesterday that "the furor" over his reentry into the Democratic presidential race has subsided but has been "replaced by more subtle attacks designed to raise questions about my qualifications for the presidency."
In a sharply worded speech at the University of Northern Iowa, Hart asked, "Why are my personal life, my contributor lists, my campaign finances endlessly scrutinized and not those of other candidates?" He suggested he has been a target because "I'm independent and don't always play by the rules."
Hart said that the news media and the party establishment have shown a "hesitancy toward me and my candidacy a long time before last May" when reports of his relationship with Miami model Donna Rice surfaced.
Aside from taking on the media, aides said Hart wanted to use the speech to distance himself from other Democrats.
Hart said Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) "talks against the establishment in general but serves it in the particular by voting for special-interest legislation time after time and, worst of all, by taking special-interest PAC money."
Of Sen. Paul Simon (Ill.), Hart said, "You can't spend your way out of difficulty simply with more programs." He accused Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (Tenn.) of "adopting Ronald Reagan's foreign policy." Hart said Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis "chants phrases like 'Massachusetts miracle' and 'presidential leadership' like mantras . . . . That sounds like old politics, keeping things vague so that you don't alienate any interest group or voting bloc."