- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Democrat Alan Grayson has been dubbed “Angry Alan” by his Senate opponent, compared to Republican Donald Trump for his penchant for earning headlines with his mouth and has become the whipping post for some in the Washington party establishment who hope he loses Florida’s primary.

But he said things could be worse.

“At least they’re not calling me the Adolf Hitler of the Democratic Senate race. They haven’t quite gone there yet. It’s only a matter of time before they accuse me of both cannibalism and necrophilia,” Grayson, who is Jewish, said during an interview at a Florida Democratic Party fundraising dinner Saturday. “Nobody buys that!”

A not-so-angry Grayson made his way through a crowd of top Democratic donors, activists and elected officials at the event - the anti-establishment candidate working the establishment itself. He was pleasant and gracious, telling U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, “If there’s anything we can do for you while you’re here, please let me know.”

Ironically, establishment-backed candidate Congressman Patrick Murphy didn’t attend the Florida Democratic Party fundraising dinner. His campaign said he had a previously planned dinner with his family.

The Democratic primary has become increasingly nasty, with Murphy repeatedly criticizing Grayson over ethical questions about his management of a Cayman Islands-based hedge fund. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has called for Grayson to quit the race, saying he has no moral compass. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed Murphy, as has the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Grayson has been called bombastic. He cursed during a live television interview while criticizing a New York Times article detailing the alleged ethics violations. He’s known for cursing at reporters.

“I’m saying what other people are thinking and nobody else is saying,” Grayson said. And to all the critics who get worked up over his inflammatory comments? He says quit taking his words so literally. Like when he said the Republican health care plan was to “die quickly” if you get sick.

“Did I really think that that was their health care plan? Did Jonathan Swift really think that the Irish should eat their children when he wrote a book about that? No. That’s satire. I assume that the voters have enough intelligence to be able to understand figures of speech, hyperbole, metaphors - the tools of public communication that have fallen by the wayside,” he said. “I don’t feel I have to pay a price for being interesting.”

Still, the Murphy campaign is making Grayson’s temperament an issue and notes that Grayson himself does a lot of name-calling. Grayson routinely calls Murphy a “sock puppet” and says he’s the establishment choice because he’s obedient.

“Grayson’s schoolyard insults fall lamely short of the truth. On the day Grayson announced his campaign, he launched negative, misleading attacks on Patrick,” Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in an email. “Grayson loves to hear himself talk on TV, but the time to judge someone is when the stakes are high and voters are watching. Alan Grayson fails the test, because time and time again he uses angry, bullying tactics to avoid the truth.”

Murphy and Grayson are seeking the seat Republican Marco Rubio is giving up after his failed presidential campaign. Republicans running for the seat include Congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessmen Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox.

Despite many in the Democratic party establishment lining up behind Murphy, state party Chairwoman Allison Tant, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all said Saturday they’d be comfortable with Grayson as the nominee should he win the Aug. 30 primary.

“Alan Grayson is a colleague, and if he’s the nominee, I’m going to support him,” Wasserman-Schultz said.

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Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bsfarrington

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This story has been corrected to fix the spelling Hitler’s first name. It is Adolf, not Adolph.

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