Rep. James Cooper (D-Tenn.) said it was the "strongest language I've ever heard in politics . . . a very negative turn in the campaign." Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called it "unbelievable" and said he was "very disappointed." Congressional supporters of Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) appear poised to make political hay from remarks by Bill Carrick, campaign manager for Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), that were reported Wednesday in The Washington Post.

Carrick described his eagerness to challenge Gore: "I can't wait. It's blood lust. Let me at him. I hate him. I hate all of them. I think they are the phoniest two-bit bastards that ever came down the pike, starting with Al Gore, moving through boy wonder, ex-wordsmith, the mosquito who roared {Fred Martin, Gore's campaign manager}. They are just a {expletive} bunch of meddlesome bastards."

Cooper, who, like Reid, has endorsed Gore, said he was so outraged that he is having copies of the article delivered to every Democratic member of Congress. Cooper wrote his colleagues that "the remarks go too far and threaten the unity of the Democratic Party."

After comparing the remarks to something Vice President Bush would say after "taking manhood lessons," he said that Carrick should apologize and that Gephardt "should make clear that Bill was not speaking for his campaign."

Carrick, upon reflection, said yesterday, "I regret what I said about Sen. Gore. I have watched him in the Senate, and he is a good senator. I am not apologizing to Fred Martin."