By Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland says it was a “light moment” when he called opponent and former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds “senator” during a public forum Wednesday.

Rounds, Weiland, a Democrat, and independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie met for their first debate of the race in Mitchell.

Weiland quickly corrected his remark to “soon-to-want-to-be senator.” The quip happened while Weiland was criticizing an investment-for-visa program that’s come under scrutiny in South Dakota over allegations of financial misconduct during Rounds’ tenure as governor.

The Democrat says his gaffe “is really not a coronation” and adds that he’s “more than willing to laugh at myself.”

The candidates are vying for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson.

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