Politicians have to be careful what they say . . . or bear the sometimes harsh consequences.

Take Brian Moss, for instance.Speaking this week at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, the Democratic senatorial candidate offended some students who have complained about his reference to "polacks, spiks, and wops."

In a speech, taped by the Deseret News, Moss reiterated his concern over Sen. Orrin Hatch's controversial comment earlier in the campaign that the Democratic Party is the party of homosexuals.

"I'm grateful to Hatch because he started my mind thinking. He started a list of what Democrats are," Moss told the students. "Unfortunately it is a very incomplete list.

"Yes, the Democrats have had a tent that has been large enough to listen to the concerns of people who are homosexual - to listen to both sides of the argument, pro-choice and pro-life," he said. "We have been the party of the blacks, the browns, of the Asian-Americans, of the young, of the old, of the poor. We're the party of the of immigrants.

"You may call us the party of the polacks, the party of spiks, the party of wops, the party of the Irish . . . any of those names, because the Democratic Party has always had a tent large enough to welcome all of those groups who are seeking their civil rights and their concerns."

Some University of Utah students, citizens and others took offense at Moss's language. The apologies went out immediately.

"It wasn't so much a joke as an illustration of the harshness" of Hatch's "inflammatory language," Moss said Saturday. "It was rash. And for that I have apologized, will apologize and will continue to apologize."

What Moss meant to say was the Democrats will always welcome diverse groups, although that does not mean the party will always agree with these groups.

"Will Rogers said it better than anyone has ever said it: `I am not the member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.' That's the way the Democratic Party is," Moss said.

The candidate's comments not only irritated some students, but members of Hatch's campaign staff who say they are tired of Moss "focusing on peripheral matters."

"Brian Moss seems to steadfastly be unwilling to deal with the substance of Sen. Hatch's comments a month ago, and that was simply that the national Democratic leadership is beholden to left-wing groups," said Bud Scruggs, Hatch's campaign manager.

"For Brian Moss to try to turn that point into a racial slur is kind of one more notch down in his level of respectability in conducting the campaign."

Scruggs related a theory taught him in law school. "When the facts are on your side, pound the fact. When the law is on your side, pound the law, and when you don't have either, pound the table."

Scruggs maintains Moss has no issues, no legitimate criticism of Hatch's record, "so he has decided to pound the table."

"He is going to say some desperate things and we are going to forgive him," Scruggs said. "No matter how many awful things he does he's going to get 35 percent of the vote in this election, so he doesn't need to act like a 24 percent candidate."