There was an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny problem with a fundraiser planned for a New Hampshire candidate for governor.
A spokesman for Republican candidate John Stephen said Friday that plans were being scrapped for a fundraiser barbecue in Nashua that was to feature a bikini contest.
The organizer, cigar distributor Victor Vitale, decided to spice up the event on his own and didn't tell Stephen's people, campaign spokesman Greg Moore said.
All Stephen knew was that Vitale was holding a poolside barbecue with cigars on July 11 in Nashua, Moore said. There was no mention of a bikini/hula hoop contest in the campaign's flier, he pointed out.
"John Stephen in no way endorses this," Moore said.
Stephen removed himself from the event altogether after reporters told him the organizer planned the bikini contest.
Still, some Democrats said the plans laid bare that Stephen — a former deputy safety commissioner and former health and human services commissioner — was unfit for office.
"It's completely outrageous that John Stephen would ask women to participate in a bikini contest to raise money for his campaign," state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark said in a news release.
Vitale called the party an annual business event and defended the scrapped contest, saying it would have been "as classy as the 89-year-old Mrs. America Pageant."
His flier advertised it differently.
"It's July, it's HOT and we are having our HOTTEST party ever!!" it reads.
State Sen. Bette Lasky also criticized the event, saying in a statement, "It's the tone of the invitation that is demeaning to women."
Vitale said he just wanted to make it "fun and safe."
Stephen, 47, lives in Manchester with his wife and two teenage daughters. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002 and 2008.
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