Hot words between Guinta, Shea-Porter in 1st DistrictBy TIM BUCKLAND
New Hampshire Union Leader
November 02. 2012 11:46PM
GOFFSTOWN - Finding little agreement in their final debate Friday night, U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta and his challenger, former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, sought to carve out their differences in the days leading up to Tuesday's election.
"I think what you see here is a very different vision," said Shea-Porter, a Democrat looking to win back the office she held from 2007 to 2011.
Guinta said Shea-Porter has failed to identify what she would do to stimulate job growth, and he claimed that she never passed a jobs bill.
"It's one thing she can't cite from her four years in Congress," he said.
Shea-Porter, meanwhile, repeatedly attacked Guinta as being an extreme, right-wing politician who she said was beholden to corporate interests and big oil and unable to work across the aisle.
"They don't listen to fact. They don't listen to science and don't want to find a way to compromise," Shea-Porter said.
The New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR partnered to present the Granite State Debates. Thursday's debate featured gubernatorial candidates Republican Ovide Lamontagne and Democratic former state Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan. Friday's Guinta and Shea-Porter debate was followed immediately by a debate between Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Bass and Democratic challenger Ann McLane Kuster for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Guinta and Shea-Porter disagreed on a host of topics, including taxation and the role of government, but the debate became more aggressive after Guinta said Shea-Porter, after she was defeated in 2010, closed her office early and provided her staff with bonuses.
"OK, that's a personal attack," she said during the debate.
Shea-Porter said after the debate that the General Services Administration forced her office to close in November 2010 and that the end-of-year payments to her staff were a common practice done by members of Congress to, after keeping pay low throughout the year, bring staff pay "to par." She said her staff was paid nearly identical rates as Guinta has paid his staff.
Shea-Porter's campaign has said she paid her chief of staff $118,000 and her deputy chief of staff $86,600. The Guinta campaign said he pays his chief of staff and deputy chief of staff $115,000 and $82,000, respectively.
"It's a flat lie," she said of Guinta's implication.
Guinta, meanwhile, said Shea-Porter would impose tax increases should she be elected.
"My opponent, all she wants to do is raise taxes," he said. "When she says raise revenue, make no mistake, she means raise taxes."
Guinta said he would prefer closing loopholes and deductions, rather than increasing tax rates, as a way to generate revenue to combat federal deficits.
After the debate, he said Shea-Porter was focused more on attacking him than on job creation and the economy.
"The one thing that I thought was most interesting was that in a full hour of debate, my opponent did not talk one iota about ways to improve our economy. She did not talk about how to create jobs," he said. "She tends to want to talk more about name-calling than what she feels would be important in her own policy for the future."
During and after the debate, Shea-Porter accused Guinta of being among the "most corrupt" members of Congress, saying he is under investigation by the Federal Elections Commission for the appearance of a bank account in 2010 that Guinta used to loan $245,000 to his campaign.
Guinta said he has been cleared by a House ethics review of any wrongdoing, but Shea-Porter said the investigation is being conducted by the FEC, not the U.S. House of Representatives. She said his attempts to highlight her office closing and staff pay are an attempt at slight of hand politics.
"It's like, look here, not there," she said after the debate.
For stories about past debates, go to unionleader.com/debate