ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Republican National Committee used Gov. Jesse Ventura's likeness in a national fund-raising letter earlier this month and the governor doesn't like it.
''Are you strong enough to take on Gov. Jesse Ventura?'' reads the headline beside a likeness of Ventura's head. ''Don't laugh. He could tip the election to the Democrats. The House. The Senate. The Presidency. Will you help me stand up to Jesse?''
Mike Collins, press secretary for the RNC, said the letter was sent before Ventura left the national Reform Party and arrived after he left.
Ventura is ''wrestling his way into presidential politics. If his Reform Party tag-teams with the Democrats, our Republican candidate for president could get body slammed,'' the letter said.
Ventura's trademarked name notwithstanding, Collins noted the likeness was used for First Amendment free speech purposes.
''We do not take the Reform Party lightly. It's a very strong threat to our chances to defeat Al Gore,'' Collins said.
Ventura spokesman John Wodele said the governor was flattered the Republicans were so worried about him that they used his likeness, but he still didn't like it and asked his attorney to look into it.
Ventura's lawyer has sent cease-and-desist letters to others who used his likeness without authorization.
Collins wasn't concerned. ''He's become a public figure and obtained public office. The old days when he could charge for the use of his likeness are over,'' Collins said.
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