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Zell Dreams Of Duel With TV Pundit

Democratic Sen. Zell Miller was tough on his own party's presidential nominee, but things got even hotter when the combative conservative all but challenged an interviewer to a duel.

Fresh off a keynote speech to the Republican National Convention that blistered John Kerry, the Georgia senator engaged in a raucous television interview with Chris Matthews that got increasingly rambunctious.

The host of MSNBC-TV's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" is known for an aggressive, rapid-fire interviewing style, and the two men interrupted each other several times during the program.

"I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel," the 72-year-old Miller angrily told Matthews, 58.

Miller was at the Madison Square Garden convention site and Matthews was at an MSNBC set several blocks away, so there was no chance of a physical confrontation. But at one point, the senator told Matthews, "I wish I was over there, where I could get a little closer up into your face."

Miller's comments came during an interview in which Matthews pressed the senator on barbs he launched during his convention speech against Kerry, the Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential nominee.

Miller said no one has been "more wrong, more loudly, more often" than Kerry.

When Matthews said he wanted to ask about Kerry's war record, Miller said, "Are you going to shut up after you ask me? Or are you going to give me a chance to answer it?"

By Thursday morning, Miller had simmered down, but just a bit.

Appearing on "Imus in the Morning," Miller said a man his age should not be "coming to New York and getting involved in all this stuff. He ought to stay down in Young Harris" — the north Georgia town where he lives — "with his two yellow labs, Gus and Woodrow, and let the world go by."

His barrages, which brought the GOP delegates to their feet cheering, prompted sharp counterattacks from Democrats. Vice presidential candidate John Edwards said some of Miller's charges were "just false."

A lifelong Democrat and ex-Marine, Miller is retiring from the Senate in January.