HELENA, Mont. — Republican Mike Taylor abruptly dropped out of the Senate race against Sen. Max Baucus on Thursday, complaining that a Democratic Party ad was calculated to make him look like a gay hairdresser.
Taylor, who was trailing Baucus badly in the polls, said the commercial amounted to character assassination.
The ad included footage of Taylor in an open-necked shirt applying lotion to the face of a man sitting in a barber's chair. Republicans say the ad implies Taylor, who is married, is gay.
Brad Martin, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, denied use of the old tape was intended to suggest Taylor is gay.
Choking back tears, with his wife, Janna, by his side, Taylor said: "I'm willing to suspend my campaign because my opponent's lies about me are hurting my wife, my family, my friends, my party and most of all, Montanans from all walks of life."
He said he hoped another Republican would step forward as a write-in candidate and keep Baucus from winning election to a fifth term Nov. 5.
Montana law bars the replacement of a candidate if he withdraws within 85 days of the election, and state GOP officials said there were no plans to try to get around the deadline, as the Democrats did last week in New Jersey's Senate race.