U.S. Senate candidate Stephen Laffey said he regrets that he wrote columns denigrating gays when he was a college student.

Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, acknowledged writing the columns in a story published Saturday in the Providence Journal. The paper reported that it received copies of the columns anonymously in the mail earlier in the week.

Laffey, 44, running a closely watched race against moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, said whoever sent the articles wanted to smear him before the Sept. 12 primary. He called the writings "sophomoric political satire" and said they do not represent his views.

"Do I regret some of these things? Sure," he said. "But at the time, we were just having fun. We thought it was funny."

The Republican candidate wrote them in 1983 and 1984 while studying at Bowdoin College in Maine. The articles appeared in a paper published by campus Republicans.

In one column, Laffey said he has never seen a happy homosexual.

"This is not to say there aren't any; I simply haven't seen one in my lifetime. Maybe they are all in the closet," he wrote. "All the homosexuals I've seen are sickly and decrepit, their eyes devoid of life."

In another column he wrote that pop music was turning the children of America into sissies, and criticized the singer Boy George, referring to him as "it."

"It wears girl's clothes and puts on makeup," he wrote. "When I hear it sing, 'Do you really want to hurt me, do you really want to make me cry,' I say to myself, YES, I want to punch your lights out, pal, and break your ribs."

Polls have shown Laffey and Chafee running neck-and-neck in a race that has gained national attention.

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face Democratic former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse in the November election.