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GOP slams Harkin on leak

'Questions remain unanswered'

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Hoping to keep alive eavesdropping charges that could have harmful implications for Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Republicans demanded Tuesday that Harkin disclose all details of how his campaign staff obtained a transcript of a strategy session by his GOP challenger.

"Significant questions remain unanswered," Iowa GOP Chairman Chuck Larson said about the incident, which came to light Monday when Harkin's campaign manager admitted the campaign had obtained a transcript of a secretly taped campaign meeting for U.S. Rep. Greg Ganske, and that the transcript had then been given to a journalist.

Larson spoke at a statehouse news conference with Ganske's campaign manager, Bill Armistead.

The Republican meeting was attended by former Gov. Robert Ray; Bruce Kelley, chief executive of the Des Moines-based EMC Insurance Group; party activist Jackie Fleming; former Johnston City Councilman Andrew Christenson; Terry Rich, a television production company executive; and Jim Bennett, an attorney. White House political director Ken Mehlman called into the meeting on a speaker phone.

Larson said he wants to know which Harkin staffer got the transcript of the meeting, along with details of how the recording was made and who made it. Republicans have already called for a state and federal investigation.

Harkin's camp initially denied any involvement. Monday, however, Harkin campaign manager Jeff Link said a staffer had gotten the transcript from an unnamed source and had provided a copy to reporters. Link has said it was a mistake and has apologized to Ganske's campaign.

An independent poll conducted September 8-10 showed Harkin leading Ganske, 52 percent to 40 percent. Senate Republicans are clearly encouraged by the leak incident and joined Iowa GOP leaders in calling for an immediate investigation by state and federal officials.

"It is not enough to just offer a late-night apology," said Mitch Bainwol, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Tom Harkin said that 'this is clearly unacceptable,' but what is really unacceptable are the unanswered questions, such as how his campaign got the transcript of an illegally recorded private meeting and who on his campaign distributed it to the media."

"The question is whether Harkin will work to protect and uphold the law, or whether he will continue to protect the ones who may have broken it," Bainwol said.

--From CNN Political Editor John Mercurio in Washington

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