The last place you’d expect to have the F-bomb dropped would be during a debate between two congressional candidates held where the Torah is read in a synagogue.
Yet that is exactly what happened Monday evening at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, Pa., during a debate between incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and his Democratic challenger Scott Wallace. The two are running in the 1st Congressional District in Bucks County.
“In fact, when he said it, we were on the altar,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview, referring to the bimah where the candidates were standing when Wallace cursed.
Fitzpatrick said the moment came during the debate when he was pushing back on Wallace’s claims about where the sitting congressman stands on health coverage for pre-existing conditions.
“He has been making false allegations about where I stand on pre-existing conditions and, as someone who was a prosecutor, I was pressing him, because you just cannot say something without evidence,” said Fitzpatrick.
That’s when Fitzpatrick said he began probing him. “I asked him to point to a bill that showed me taking a position against covering pre-existing questions" he said.
Wallace became flustered. Out came, “Ah, fuck.”
When you are by a mic, no matter how much you think something is just muttered under your breath, words carry.
“It was an awkward moment,” Fitzpatrick said, adding, “I guess the frustration of the tight campaign just got to him.”
The Wallace campaign released an apology, saying the Democrat was sorry if he offended anyone in a moment of anger about insurance company abuse. “I was exasperated by yet another attempt from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to hide from his votes to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” Wallace said in the statement.
Fitzpatrick was taking Wallace to task for ads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running that claims the Republican sold out the people of his district on healthcare.
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave the DCCC four Pinocchios, adding that Fitzpatrick bucked his party and President Trump when it came to repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“The DCCC really crossed the line here,” Kessler wrote, noting that Fitzpatrick voted against Obamacare repeal “specifically because he was concerned about the impact on people with preexisting conditions. His reward? Being attacked for selling his constituents out on the issue because of his minor procedural votes, when just about every member of Congress sticks to party lines."
Fitzpatrick won this seat, which was previously held by his brother Michael, for the first time in 2016. It has been a primarily Bucks County swing seat held by centrists in both parties. Michael won it in 2004 only to lose in 2006 in the Democratic-wave election to Patrick Murphy, a moderate Democrat and the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress.
Michael Fitzpatrick sat out the 2008 congressional races then challenged Murphy for his old seat back in the Republican-wave election of 2010, holding it until retiring last cycle.
The seat was redrawn this past spring when the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the lines that have been in place since 2012 were unconstitutional and redrew the entire state to favor Democratic candidates.
RealClearPolitics rates the race as a toss-up.