U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) has known Democratic challenger Ann McLane Kuster nearly his entire life. They went to the same college (Dartmouth). He served in the state Senate with her mother, the late Hon. Susan McLane. His father's first job? For her great grandfather.
So, understandably, Bass told reporters today that he hoped this campaign would be about "substantive differences."
And then came the arrows.
"Basically, Ann McLane Kuster is an unabashed supporter of the president’s record over the last four years, and the president has a record which I think is abysmal. The record of this president and my opponent over the last three or four months has been one of talking about excuses: We didn’t have the right congress, we didn’t have this, you’re better off today than you were four years ago because you could’ve been worse off ...”
Bass, who narrowly defeated Kuster in 2010, said he is a congressman who has "consistently been willing to work across the aisle to exercise independence on issues, such as reproductive choices, such as the environment, and other issues that are not insignificant."
He accused Kuster of blindly trumpeting the "liberal" Obama agenda.
"The choice is pretty clear," he said, "Bipartisanship vs. hyper-partisanship."
Shortly after that, Bass lit into Kuster, an attorney from Hopkinton, as a tax-and-spend Democrat, noting her past support of Mark Fernald, when he ran for governor and proposed a state income tax.
“She is an unabashed supporter of an income tax for New Hampshire," Bass said. "Now you say maybe that doesn’t have any relevance in Washington – it most certainly does because it’s the approach to public policy that matters here. My opponent has no legislative record as far as I know. She’s never cast a vote outside the ballot box.”
Kuster, in an interview with Patch after the state primary, said her campaign was about ending the partisan gridlock in Washington.
"My opponent has chosen to start right off the bat negative, and our message is positive," she said. "Congress is broken."
Today, Kuster responded with a statement calling Bass anything but bipartisan. She said,
"Congressman Bass is trying to distract from the fact that he has said he shares an agenda with the Tea Party and has voted to privatize Social Security, end Medicare, and cut veterans benefits. If he thinks he can fool Granite State voters into believing those radical votes were actually 'bipartisan,' he's been in Washington 14 years too long.
I have spent my life bringing people together to get things done - regardless of political party - including increasing access to affordable medication and higher education for New Hampshire seniors and students. In Congress, I will continue to support New Hampshire businesses by signing on to Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte’s resolution to prevent N.H. businesses from having to collect other states' sales taxes, streamlining regulation, and eliminating the capital gains tax on small business investment."
Patch asked Bass, in the press conference call Sept. 13, his thoughts on the violence in Cairo and Libya and Mitt Romney criticism of the administration. Bass sounded a high-road note. He responded, in part:
“We live in a new paradigm where we cannot expect the rules of military engagement to be as traditional as they had been in the past and we have to have adequate security at all times everywhere in the world to guard against this kind of attack and it’s a horrible, despicable extra state, if you will, action that has occurred and we need to deal with it on that basis. And I understand the Obama administration has done that and I commend them for it.”