Republican Sen. Jim Bunning (search) apologized Monday for having said his Democratic opponent looked like one of Saddam Hussein's sons — and demanded the same from his rival for allegedly claiming Bunning's health was failing.

The apology and demand came during a taped debate between Bunning, who was in Washington and spoke via satellite, and Daniel Mongiardo (search), who was at WKYT-TV studios.

"Earlier this year, I made an inappropriate comment and for that I personally apologize to you," Bunning said. "I would hope you would do the same to my wife and my family for all the horrible rumors that you and your staff have been circulating about my health."

After the debate, Bunning's campaign released two letters from doctors saying the baseball Hall of Famer was in "excellent health."

Mongiardo denied spreading rumors. "I hope that you are healthy," Mongiardo said, then added: "You have conduct that has been unbecoming of a United States Senator, you have conduct that has been unbecoming of a Kentucky gentleman."

The taped debate is the only one scheduled in the race, where Bunning enjoys an advantage in name recognition and fund-raising. As of June, Mongiardo had $600,000 on hand compared with about $4 million for Bunning.