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6 House Debate Moments That Reminded Us of High School (Video)

Foust is running for Congress in Virginia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Foust is running for Congress in Virginia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rowdy auditoriums, petty exchanges, testy comebacks. Sounds like high school, right?  

Try House candidate debates in 2014.  

CQ Roll Call collected six of the most awkward and juvenile moments of the cycle from the hundreds of debates that took place across the country.  

Like most debates, none of these moments will have much of an impact on the final outcome of the race. But as a season of these awkward meet-ups conclude, these exchanges are worth watching — at least for their entertainment value.  

Here are the six debate moments that reminded us of high school:  

Welcome to assembly period in Virginia’s 10th District.  

Closing remarks at a Sunday debate devolved into childish outbursts from audience members.  

As Democrat John Foust read his prepared closing remarks — in which he sought to paint Republican Barbara Comstock as extreme — the audience started laughing and muttering. At the 1:50 mark, one woman yells “shut up!” to the audience members interrupting Foust.  

“Please, be quiet,” the debate moderator chided the audience. “We’re going to let John finish his remarks, and if you have difficulty, it’s a beautiful day outside. You’re welcome to leave now.”  

The audibly-divided audience didn’t listen. When Foust asked a rhetorical question about whether voters could trust Comstock, a chorus of “yes!” and “no!” erupted.  

“This is extremely rude,” the moderator added.  

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Leans Republican .  

Things get testy in California’s 52nd District. [field name=iframe]  

The race for this San Diego-based House seat between freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio has become a spectacle in the final few weeks of the race. Tensions rose in the already-competitive contest after a former staffer accused DeMaio of sexual harassment — an allegation DeMaio denies but that has garnered considerable media attention .  

At a taping of a Sunday talk show in the district, Peters offers a handshake to DeMaio before the event. DeMaio ignores him and walks around the congressman. The expression on Peters’ face is worth watching — twice.  

Rating: Tossup
What did he just say? [field name=iframe2]  

Just a few months after Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., came to Congress via a special election, a surveillance camera caught him kissing a married staffer in his district office in April.  

Despite this, McAllister decided to seek re-election for a full term. He faces several opponents in the Pelican State’s jungle primary Nov. 4. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote recipients head to a runoff in early December.  

The candidates met last week at a debate, where McAllister poked fun at himself.  

“I’m congressman Vance McAllister and if you don’t know who I am, God bless you, I’d love to meet you,” he said in a thick Louisiana drawl.  

The conversation then turned to Ebola and whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is handling the situation appropriately. McAllister listed some interesting examples of questionable CDC research projects — including these doozies.  

“It’s ridiculous what our government is doing right now,” McAllister said. “We’re funding $2.9 million to find out why lesbians are obese, $2 million to find out why elderly are not joining the choir.”  

Rating: Safe Republican .  

The Big Brain Freeze.  

Democrats pushed the “War on Women” narrative on Republicans this cycle, especially in Colorado, where the party is counting on strong female turnout to win. So the party pounced when Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican in the 6th District, froze while talking about birth control in a debate against former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff.  

A constituent eventually helped Coffman remember that pills that prevent pregnancy are called birth control pills, but the tongue-tied moment is still cringe-worthy.  

Rating: Tilts Republican .  

Speaking of the “War on Women” …  

At a New York House debate last week, Democrat Martha Robertson accused her opponent, GOP Rep. Tom Reed, of being a part of the “war against women.”  

The line drew an audible groan and some chuckles from the audience, a similarly uncomfortable moment to watch.  

Democrats started the cycle targeting Reed in this New York district, which GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won by a slim 1-point margin in 2012. But Robertson’s bid did not pan out the way Democrats hoped  and is unlikely to be close on Election Day.  

Rating: Favored Republican .  

Anything you can do, I can do better.  

Remember that song, “Anything you can do, I can do better?” An early October debate in Minnesota’s 8th District took that sentiment up a level.  

Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, is a top target for Republicans in this district filled with conservative, labor union-friendly Democrats. Stewart Mills, his GOP opponent, has made his support of Second Amendment rights one of the pillars of his campaign. The issue is what got Mills noticed even before he was a candidate, when he posted a YouTube video on gun rights in front of his family’s popular chain of sporting goods stores (which sells guns, among other things).  

But at a debate in early October, when Mills attacked Nolan on supporting an assault rifle ban, Nolan had a sharp response.  

“I don’t need an assault rifle to shoot a duck,” Nolan said to Mills at the 2:43 mark. “Perhaps you do. Maybe you should spend more time at your shooting range.”  

Rating: Tilts Democratic     

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