U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning has a poll gauging his re-election prospects, but he isn’t going to share it with reporters anytime soon.

Asked on his weekly teleconference with Kentucky reporters Tuesday what the poll showed, Bunning answered: “Let’s just say I did the polling.”

When a reporter asked what it meant that he wouldn’t share the results, Bunning said, “That means it’s none of your (expletive) business,” laughing and eliciting laughter from reporters. “Have you paid the 20 grand for the poll?” He said if news media “cough up the money” for the poll they could get the results.

Bunning wants to seek a third term in 2010, but some in his party appear to be trying to dissuade him from seeking re-election, including trying to dry up his fundraising efforts. His colleague from Kentucky, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been silent on Bunning’s re-election efforts except to say in January he didn’t know what Bunning planned to do in 2010. Bunning maintains he told McConnell in December he would run for re-election.

Bunning, 77, was also asked what passed between him and McConnell at Saturday night’s 5th District Lincoln Day Dinner in Corbin where they were seated at the same table.

“I said hello while he was seated across the table,” Bunning said. “You have so many people to go around and shake hands with that you haven’t seen in a long time. I see McConnell every day. I don’t see a lot of those people that I got to say hello to.”

Bunning didn’t have much reaction to comments at the dinner by state Kentucky Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who has been mentioned as a potential challenger to Bunning. At the dinner, Williams said he will be on the usual end-of-campaign Republican bus tour in 2010 trying to keep the seat in Republican hands, but he said he didn’t know in what capacity he’d be on the bus. That seemed to imply he might be the candidate.

Bunning said Tuesday Williams was “on the bus in 2004. He was on the bus in 2008. I suspect he’ll be on the bus in 2010. What’s the big surprise?”

He said neither Williams nor anyone else had announced they planned to challenge him.

McConnell managed to mention both Williams and Grayson in his speech Saturday, calling Williams a “fabulous legislator who has done fabulous job of leading the state Senate and our state.”

“Speaking of young people on the rise,” McConnell said Grayson has a bright future and won two state-wide races, the last in 2007 winning by a large majority in the face of a Democratic wave.

He mentioned Bunning, but did not compliment him, politically.

McConnell noted that Bunning is the only Major League Baseball Hall of Famer elected to the Senate and said, “And, Jim, we’re proud of you.” It was the reporter’s error.

Bunning planned to vote against the omnibus spending bill before the Senate Tuesday, decrying the “more than 9,000 earmarks” in the bill. But he expected it to pass. He said if President Barack Obama, who campaigned against earmarks, “is a man of his word, he’ll veto this bill the minute it hits his desk.”

Bunning again forcefully declared his unhappiness with Obama’s reversal of a Bush administration order which allowed no federal funding for research on any new lines of stem cells. He said keeping Bush’s policy would not prohibit stem cell research but would “keep the federal government out of it.”

He went on to say it is “morally repugnant to those of us who think that life begins at conception.”

He said money is needed for the country’s transportation needs, including Ohio River bridges in Kentucky in Jefferson County and northern Kentucky, but he doesn’t think the answer is to raise gasoline taxes.

“To raise taxes in a struggling economy, to raise taxes on the very people who are struggling, is a bad idea,” said Bunning.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Recach him at rellis@cnhi.com.

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