Utah Democratic senatorial candidate Scott Howell tried a different attack in a Sunday fundraising email: He said the Republican incumbent, Sen. Orrin Hatch, may be too old to take on another six-year term.

"Look, Orrin Hatch is not a bad guy," Howell wrote. "But he is an old guy, and he's a lifer politician."

Hatch could "die before his term is through," Howell noted later in the email.

Hatch is 78 years old and has been in the Senate for 35 years. If he wins reelection, he would be 84 by the end of his next term. Howell is 56 years old.

"Orrin Hatch is old enough to be my father and I don't want my father running the United States Senate Finance Committee," Howell told ABC's Salt Lake City affiliate.

He had used a similar line in a July meeting with the Deseret Times editorial board. "We all know what happens at 78," Howell said then. "We all know where an individual is. He could be my dad."

Hatch spokesman Matt Harakal told Yahoo! News on Monday that Howell "sounds like a classy guy," but added that he hadn't seen the fundraising email. The senator's campaign spokeswoman, Evelyn Call, said, "This kind of behavior is what turns people off to election season, and Utah voters do not respond well to these kinds of tactics."

Hatch led Howell in the polls by more than 30 percentage points at the end of June.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified the Hatch-Howell contest as the Nevada Senate race. They are competing to represent Utah.

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