As Rep. Tim Bishop and his opponent Randy Altschuler continue to play nice in their head-to-head meetings, the attacks by their campaigns or supporting Super PACs continue unabated.
Bishop, the five-term Southampton Democrat, met Altschuler, the Republican businessman from St. James, for their fifth debate Monday afternoon at a local senior community. The tone struck by the candidates was similar to their previous face-offs: cordial and issue-oriented.
They even managed to give a few compliments about the other.
But as this was happening, the kinds of slams that have otherwise marked their closely watched House campaign carried on.
First, early on Monday, the National Republican Congressional Committee debuted a new television ad against Bishop. Like others from Altschuler’s campaign and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, the ad goes after the congressman’s recent ethics controversy.
The NRCC dubbed Bishop “Tricky Tim” for running an ad claiming that he’s “never asked for anything in return” for helping a constituent. His words, in the GOP attack ad, are supplemented by a narrator citing the reports that Bishop’s campaign asked a constituent for a donation in late May, days after that man had asked Bishop’s congressional office for help securing a fireworks permit.
Bishop has firmly denied wrongdoing, as Altschuler calls for a House ethics investigation. The congressman says that the constituent was the one to first suggest giving to the campaign, and that his fundraising staff was simply following up, without ever linking the official government action that was in progress.
That controversy was not raised at the debate, nor was the Bishop campaign’s main attack on Altschuler: that his former business, OfficeTiger, made its fortune “outsourcing” American jobs. Altschuler has said that his company only created American jobs, though it had many more based overseas.
Shortly after the debate, the attacks resumed. Bishop’s campaign sent out a news release pointing out that Altschuler’s platform of being an independent-thinking Washington outsider (something he's repeated often) is being undermined by his acceptance of support from GOP leaders like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.)
Boehner will appear in the district to raise funds for Altschuler next week, as Altschuler spends debates assailing “both parties” in Congress for not being effective.
“For all of Altschuler’s ‘outsider’ rhetoric, he certainly has powerful friends in Washington,’” said Bishop campaign spokesman Robert Pierce. “It seems that Altschuler has no problem criticizing the Republican Congress at night and cashing their checks by day.”
Altschuler campaign spokesman Chris Russell replied that the GOP challenger "has a proven track record of working with people across the political spectrum to create jobs and grow the economy as a successful businessman, and he will do the same in Congress."
"Tim Bishop's track record is ten years of being a partisan rubberstamp for his party bosses in Washington more than 95% of the time," Russell added, a reference to Bishop's record largely voting with Democrats.
Bishop and Altschuler are not scheduled to debate again until next week.