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Skinny-dipping Allegations Dog Minnesota Governor Candidate

October 27, 1990 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth admitted during a televised debate that he had ″wild years,″ but denied swimming nude with girls.

As Grunseth debated two challengers Friday, fellow Republicans pressured him to quit the race, fearing his troubles could drag them down to defeat.

″I can’t say, Jon, you have to get off the ticket. . . . I don’t have that kind of power,″ said U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz. ″But I can talk to him and tell him I think he has a future and he should not endanger that future by running in a three-man race and coming in third.″

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Grunseth is trying to unseat incumbent Gov. Rudy Perpich, a Democrat seeking an unprecedented fourth term. State Auditor Arne Carlson, who lost to Grunseth in the Republican primary, began a write-in campaign after Grunseth became entangled in the nude-swimming allegations.

During Friday night’s debate, Grunseth said he went through a ″wild years″ period a decade ago when he was separated from his first wife and later divorced. But he said the allegations he swam nude with teen-age girls at a 1981 pool party are untrue.

″The legend of Jon Grunseth has been grossly exaggerated,″ he said. ″There are things I’ve done in my life I wish I hadn’t done. That’s not unlike most of us.″

Perpich blasted Grunseth during the debate for having said the governor was behind the allegations two young women brought against Grunseth.

The women said in sworn statements that Grunseth invited them and two other teen-agers to join him for the nude swim. They said they declined but that Grunseth and the other girls took off their clothes.

One of the women also said Grunseth tried to pull down her bathing suit top and touch her breast.

″People who know me know that I wouldn’t even think of this,″ Perpich said. ″Why would I want to hurt your family or you? Why would I do that? ... This is an outrage.″

Grunseth has called Perpich the ″supreme liar″ for denying any connection, but has admitted he has no proof Perpich was involved.

Boschwitz, seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate, said Grunseth’s troubles are hurting the campaigns of all Republicans in Minnesota.

″It has an impact on dozens of people who are running for the state Legislature who are out there knocking on doors and working their hearts out, and I really don’t want to see those people hurt, nor myself,″ he said.

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But Grunseth isn’t quitting, his campaign director, Elam Baer, said Friday.

Grunseth called a news conference Thursday to announce he was dropping out of the race, but decided at the last minute to stay in.

″Last night, we slammed the door shut, nailed a couple of spikes in it and locked the deadbolts and he is in this race until Nov. 6,″ Baer said.

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