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Oct 16, 2012 9:30 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

UPDATE: Watch Video As Bishop, Altschuler Debate Jobs, Economy In Bridgehampton

Oct 16, 2012 6:17 PM

Monday’s debate between Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop and Republican Randy Altschuler in Bridgehampton turned inward when the candidates argued over their campaign tactics in a race marked by a flood of attack ads.

The two men covered well-trodden ground in what was their fourth debate on the East End, once again laying out their differing visions for economic recovery. But to a greater extent than in past debates, they focused frustration on the tone of the race itself.

The candidates even attacked each other’s attacks during an extended exchange, with Mr. Altschuler calling the congressman’s tactics “filthy” and Mr. Bishop calling his opponent’s ads “unseemly.”

“This has been an ugly, bruising campaign,” Mr. Bishop acknowledged. “I think Mr. Altschuler regrets that. I regret that. I think even within the context of an ugly, bruising campaign, I think family should be off-limits.”

Mr. Bishop, a Democrat running for his sixth term, was referring to what he claimed were recent attacks by Mr. Altschuler’s campaign, as well as national and regional groups buying advertising in the race, charging that Mr. Bishop’s wife, Kathy, a preschool director, and 33-year-old daughter, Molly, his political fundraiser, benefited from his political and professional connections. He has rejected the charges in the past.

Mr. Altschuler said he tried to run a positive campaign, filming an ad with his family and releasing a jobs plan, but was quickly drawn into a brawl that he claims Mr. Bishop started. “I would say 98 percent of his money or more is spent saying negative things about me, and not at one point talking about the things he’s done in the last 10 years in Congress,” he said.

Mr. Bishop called that account “disingenuous.” “Before we had run a single ad, before we had said anything at all, July 28, Mr. Altschuler has a press conference in front of my office in Patchogue to attack my daughter and my wife,” he said. “So, please, please, don’t be the choir boy when it comes to negative campaigning.”

Mr. Altschuler likewise called that characterization “totally disingenuous.”

The exchange built off a similar one in Hampton Bays last month, when a high school senior asked the candidates why they were running negative 
ads rather than touting their own accomplishments.

The two also discussed the role of “super PACs” in the campaign. Super PACs are political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of political capital and spend them on advertising independent of campaigns. Both regretted the phenomenon, largely the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision two years ago on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. But both candidates have benefited from super PAC money, and advertisements, in this year’s election.

Mr. Altschuler said it’s “an unfortunate situation we’re in,” and Mr. Bishop said super PACs “fundamentally threaten our democracy.”

The candidates spoke at length on a host of other issues, including unemployment and the economy, taxes, and bipartisanship. The debate, which focused on jobs and the economy for the first half, kicked off with a question from moderator Joseph Shaw, executive editor of the Press News Group, posed to both on whether cutting taxes creates jobs. Mr. Altschuler said he believes it does, while Mr. Bishop said there’s no evidence that proves cutting taxes alone will create jobs.

They rehashed some of the same issues from prior debates, once again addressing each other’s attacks on outsourcing and ethics, while defending themselves. Mr. Altschuler has been heavily criticized by the Bishop campaign for being an outsourcing pioneer. Mr. Bishop has had his ethics challenged on whether his campaign solicited donations from a constituent after helping him get necessary permits for a fireworks show this summer.

The two also explained their positions on abortion. The next presidential administration could appoint at least two Supreme Court justices, which could determine future decisions on issues like abortion. Mr. Altschuler said he is pro-life, with the exceptions of rape, incest and the health of the mother. Mr. Bishop said he is pro-choice, and that he shares former President Bill Clinton’s views that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”

The debate was the second in a series of three debates sponsored by the Press News Group and the Times/Review News Group based in Mattituck. It will conclude on Thursday, October 25, when the newspaper groups will co-sponsor another debate, to be hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons. That debate will take place at the Westhampton Beach High School on Lilac Road in Westhampton Beach at 7 p.m.

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wah wah wah dim bishlop can't do much else but cry about his lackluster performance
By uncleronk (136), southold on Oct 16, 12 11:44 AM
This is the problem with Super PACs. Candidates have deniability on their ads because they aren't supposed to be in contact with the Super PACs, so now who's responsible for all the dirt? In theory, it goes both ways, but in this race, there's been much more of this stuff coming from Super PACs on Randy's side, and from Altschuler directly.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 16, 12 11:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Job Shipping Randy, the New Jersey Carpetbagger and Koch brother puppet is a key, Tea Party backed supporter of the radical right's war on women, the environment, medicare and the middle class.

Reelect Tim Bishop and send Job shipping Randy back to the Jersey Shore.
By Steven (113), Westhampton on Oct 16, 12 12:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
The Republican Supreme Court is responsible for the Super PACs just like they were responsible for installing Bush as President.Look how terrific that worked out.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Oct 17, 12 8:48 PM