By Jason McLure
LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - A Republican New Hampshire legislator has apologized for calling a former state GOP official who endorsed his political rival a "stripper" and a "pole dancer," party members said on Tuesday.
The outburst at a GOP picnic over the weekend in Goffstown, New Hampshire, targeted Pam Manney, 55, a grandmother of four and former vice chairwoman of the state Republican Party.
State Representative John Hikel berated her in front of about 20 people at a hotdog tent promoting Representative Phil Greazzo, his rival in the upcoming GOP primary for state senate, said Mike Ball, chairman of the Manchester Republican Committee, part of the state GOP.
Manney, who supported Greazzo over Hikel, said Hikel repeatedly and falsely accused her of being a former exotic dancer, after hearing that misinformation from another state Republican representative.
"He goes, ‘Stripper. Are you a stripper? You were once a stripper,'" Manney told Reuters. "I said, 'I want to let everyone know it's not true.' I've never been a pole dancer. I looked at John and said, 'You ought to be ashamed of yourself.'"
Manney said Hikel left a message on her home answering machine on Monday night in which he apologized and said the incident had been "eating at him all day."
Hikel did not return phone calls to his home or business or emails to his personal, legislative or campaign accounts.
New Hampshire Republicans, who control a veto-proof majority in both houses of the legislature, have made recent headlines for internal discord. Last week, state Representative Steve Vaillancourt was temporarily removed from the chamber after saying "Sieg Heil," an expression associated with Nazi Germany, during a heated floor exchange with House Speaker Bill O'Brien, who has been criticized by fellow Republicans as a bully.
With 424 members, New Hampshire has the largest state legislature in the country.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Philip Barbara)