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Jim Bunning Threatens To Sue The RNC

ROGER ALFORD   02/24/09 10:51 PM ET   AP

Jim Bunning

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning on Tuesday said he would have grounds for a lawsuit against his party's national campaign arm if backed a GOP challenger to him in the 2010 primary.

Bunning made the comments during his weekly media call a day after Republican Kentucky state Senate President David Williams said he would not rule out a possible run in the primary. The discussion also came a day after he apologized for comments made about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's fight with cancer.

In his call, Bunning said that if the National Republican Senatorial Committee backed a Republican challenger in the primary, he would have grounds for a lawsuit.

"In the bylaws of the NRSC, support of incumbents is the only reason for their existence. If they recruited someone and supported them in a primary against me I would be able to sue them because they're not following their bylaws," Bunning said.

Bunning also reacted angrily to comments by the head of the committee, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who said last month that he doesn't know whether Bunning will be seeking a third term.

Bunning said Tuesday that Coryn "doesn't understand English."

Republican officials have said they are not recruiting candidates to run against Bunning, whose lackluster fundraising has raised concerns about how seriously he is approaching re-election.

On Monday, Williams said he hasn't made a decision over whether to run in 2010.

"I've always been for Jim Bunning, he's always been for me," he said at the time. "But that, you know, we'll just see what the rest of the year brings."

During the media call, Bunning said his relationship with Williams was still "very good."

Bunning apologized on Monday to the 75-year-old Ginsburg for saying he believes she could die within a year from pancreatic cancer. Bunning, 77, a Hall-of-Fame major league pitcher, who has no medical background, said during a speech Saturday that Ginsburg has "bad cancer" that people often die from within nine months.

He issued a written apology to Ginsburg, who was back on the bench Monday, 18 days after having a small tumor removed. Bunning wouldn't discuss it further on Tuesday.

Already, Bunning has two Democratic opponents, including Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, who announced Monday that he will run.

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Associated Press writer Joe Biesk contributed to this report.

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Filed by Nick Graham  |