Sen. Orrin Hatch says he didn't mean to imply in a Wednesday evening speech in St. George that all Democrats are homosexuals, "and I don't believe I did say that."

The flap is over a statement Hatch is quoted as making in that speech, a quote that was recorded by a local radio station. Hatch is quoted as saying the Democratic Party is "the party of homosexuals . . . the party of abortionists . . ." and a number of other special interest groups.In a press conference held Thursday at the Salt Lake City Executive

erminal, Hatch said in the context of the whole speech, he didn't call the Democrats the party of homosexuals, even if a tape recording of the speech does have that phrase in it.

"If I did say that - that the Democratic Party is the party of homosexuals - it was a mistake. I wouldn't say it like that again." But the senator, who is being challenged by Democrat Brian Moss in his re-election bid, reiterated several times that he stands solidly behind his belief that the national Democratic Party leadership accepts the support of gay rights groups, pro-abortion groups and pro-gun control groups.

"The Gay and Lesbian Task Force endorses and supports the Democratic Party," Hatch said. "That is well known. There's not a great number of homosexuals who support Republicans. They support Democrats. And the Democrats should admit it and not try to hide it."

Hatch was referring to statements made by State Democratic Chairman Randy Horiuchi. As reported Thursday, Horiuchi said that Hatch's comments were an attack on all Utah Democrats. Horiuchi demanded an apology, saying gays, pro-abortionists and pro-gun control advocates don't dominate the party.

Hatch said he won't apologize.

Moss got into the fray too, saying Hatch's comments about Democrats and homosexuals were irresponsible and offensive. "Like other Republicans, (Hatch) thinks he can answer solid Democratic issues with childish name-calling and insulting generalizations. Orrin is completely out of touch with today's Utah. Our citizens can't be swayed by labels and sensationalism. Utahns want candidates who deal with substantive issues, not libelous rhetoric," said Moss.

Hatch stood by his assertions: "The national Democratic Party is indeed captive to special interest groups that promote abortion, gun control, weakening our national defense and gay rights.

"I do not believe such groups represent the values of most Americans and they certainly do not reflect the beliefs of most Utahns. If most Utah Democrats knew how these groups control their leaders at the top (of their party), how (their leaders) cater to these groups, they wouldn't belong to that party," Hatch said.

"The point I was trying to make in St. George and which I would like to re-emphasize today, is that in a year where it has become impossible to tell what Michael Dukakis and the national Democrats stand for, it is relevant to examine who they stand with," Hatch said. "It was in no way my intention to suggest that all, most or even a large minority of Democrats are gay.

"Finally, my comments should in no way be seen as reflecting on the caliber or character of Democrats in Utah. If the national party paid more attention to Utah Democrats and less to the special interest groups I mentioned, I wouldn't be nearly as alarmed by the prospects of the election of a Democratic president," Hatch said.