A stark choice was on display Monday night as Democrat Carol Shea-Porter and Republican Frank Guinta met for their final debate before the mid-term elections next week, televised live on WMUR TV.
In their three campaigns against one another, Guinta and Shea-Porter have debated more than a handful of times. They rarely agree on much.
It was in the final minutes of this debate that they found themselves on the same page of an issue. Unfortunately, casino gambling is not a question that is decided by members of the US House of Representatives. Both candidates don’t feel a casino would be right for New Hampshire.
Apart from non-specific calls for the reforming the tax code, and for Edward Snowden to return to America to face charges, Guinta and Shea-Porter were almost exclusively at odds.
Guinta assailed the Affordable Care Act, and Anthem's limited insurance network that don’t allow to access every hospital in the state.
“But people like Carol Shea-Porter seem to think [the ACA] is working,” said Guinta, “65 percent of the state doesn’t want it, but she’s doubling down on it.”
It’s not clear where this 65 percent figure comes from. Surveys done by UNH have never found more than 57 percent of Granite Staters disapprove of the ACA.
But Shea-Porter didn't back away from her vote in favor of so-called Obamacare. She noted the law increased access to insurance and called it the law she was most proud of.
“We fixed a problem that your party did not fix for decades,” she declared.
This wasn’t the only issue where the two were at odds.
For instance, immigration.
“Well I support the Senate version for immigration,” said Shea-Porter, “which of course Kelly Ayotte voted for because it’s a tough one.”
Guinta, meanwhile; said he would support reforming certain guest worker visas, but only after sealing the border and rescinding an executive order that allows some immigrants to stay in the country while their status was being considered.
Shea-Porter said she favors reforming the IRS and accused Guinta of wanting to abolish the agency that she called the nation’s accounts receivable.
Guinta countered that ditching the IRS as we know it would solve problems.
“Instead of having IRS agents come after individuals, come after small business owners, come after non-profits, why don’t we have a very simple process of simplifying the code, and you can have a very simple tax collection process,” he said.
Because Guinta has been out of office now for two years, many of Shea-Porter’s attack lines were recycled from previous campaigns.
She again brought up a now four-year old Federal Elections Commission complaint against Guinta for not declaring a bank account containing $355,000 dollars.
“So are you going to deny… because at 5:02 today, we called and your case is not closed, it is still open. So are you going deny that you’re still being investigated by the FEC?” she asked.
Guinta shrugged off the accusation by noting the House ethics committee had found no wrong-doing, and noting that thousands of politically motivated complaints are filed with the FEC.
Guinta meanwhile, repeatedly painted Shea-Porter as a Washington insider.
“That sounds like a Washington Speak,” he said at one point as Shea-Porter tried to explain why she believes one of his ads misrepresents her record.
He repeatedly noted that, “Carol Shea-Porter has been in office for six years.” While that is true, it avoids mentioning the two years that Guinta occupied the same office from 2010 to 2012.
Polls suggest either candidate could end up holding the seat for the next two years.
One from UNH put Shea-Porter up by four points. The other, by New England College, had Guinta up by six.