Congressman calls challenger 'lowlife scumbag'
October 19th, 2012
02:18 PM ET
6 years ago

Congressman calls challenger 'lowlife scumbag'

(CNN) – They didn’t actually throw sticks and stones, but a congressional debate in Minnesota Thursday was every bit as schoolyard.

It didn't take long for the showdown to turn ugly with accusations flying over who was the bigger liar and jabs escalating into a fight over the two candidates' respective divorces.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Nine minutes into the radio debate, incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat, sounded off on his Republican challenger, charging him with misstating the congressman's tenure on a House committee.

"You want to talk about who's a liar? You're the liar. You lie all the time," Ellison said to his opponent, Chris Fields.

The moderator quickly jumped in to break up the sparring, but three minutes later, they were at it again–this time, over tax returns.

Not long after that, the conversation turned to deficit reduction and tax cut proposals. Ellison took issue with his opponent's claims about a bill Ellison voted for in Congress.

"That's ridiculous, that's another bold-faced lie. It amazes me that you could sit here with a straight face," Ellison said in defense. "I'm not going to deal with you because you're just silly–really."

More than half an hour into the debate, however, the exchange got more personal. Fields faulted Ellison for being in the pocket of Washington lobbyists, while Ellison accused Fields of not paying his campaign vendors.

"If you want to talk about nasty business, let's talk about–" Fields said, before being interrupted by the moderator, who changed the topic to women's issues.

The conversation waded back into their personal coffers when Fields accused the congressman of paying a contractor to dig into Fields' divorce.

"What they found was a statement that my ex-wife had never given me, and she issued a statement saying 'hey it was a deeply troubling period," Fields said.

Ellison jumped in, saying "You're real stupid for bringing up your domestic violence allegation–I wasn't going to say a thing about it."

Hitting back, Fields denied the allegation and pounced on Ellison's own marriage history.

"You know what. If you want to talk about divorce, talk about your own," he said, charging that Ellison had been skimpy on child support.

Ellison replied: "You are a lowlife scumbag. You are a lowlife scumbag...You are a gutter dweller."

As the argument continued to boil, Ellison at one point said his daughter was sitting in the other room and that he was "using a lot of self-control."

During the hour-long debate, the moderator went to commercial twice to break up the squabbling. Ellison, a three-term congressman, is fighting to keep his seat representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, which includes the Minneapolis area and surrounding suburbs.

After the event, Ellison released a statement, saying he became defensive in part because of his daughter's presence at the radio station.

"In response to my opponent's false statement, I made an uncivil reference to him. I should not have done so. I acted beneath my personal standard as a public official, and I apologize...His untrue reference to the terms of my divorce was over the line, but my comment to him was over the line too. His tactics are no excuse for my departure from civility. I will not allow this to happen again, and I regret my action," he said.

Fields also put out a response:

"While I cannot apologize for Congressman Ellison's violent outbursts, I do believe the voters of the Fifth Congressional District are entitled to a Representative who more accurately reflects their values of people working together regardless of their background or political beliefs."

Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Keith Ellison • Minnesota
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    classy.......but he'll still win.

    October 19, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. aaron

    Wish one of these guys had debated Bachmann. Her dirty laundry is so deep, it's doubtful we'd have to endure her for another 2 years except on Fox News.

    October 19, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. rick

    Ah yes, the best of 'merican politics.

    October 19, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Thomas

    For all you pro NRA gun loves.

    Maybe it's time to repeal the Dueling act and ObamaCare ?
    The act of duelling was often condemned by public figures throughout U.S. history and seen as unnecessarily violent and instigated by trivial matters.

    October 19, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. scarf

    To think that I almost moved to Minneapolis a couple of years ago. Instead, I stayed where I was, so my current congressman went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee.

    October 19, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Jack

    We need to bring pistols back into debates. Put them back to back, take ten steps, turn and shoot.

    October 19, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Obama alltheway

    Repulicants have ruin this country.

    October 19, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. Joi Gibson

    At least the Congressman had the good sense to apologize for being over the top and out of line.

    October 19, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |

    Go Keith! MN 10th is behind you!

    October 19, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    Democrats have a high propensity for name calling, derogatory comments, and other generally offensive behaviors.

    October 19, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. DC1973

    So, they got in an argument.

    One of them said, "I'm sorry we got in an argument. We were both out of line. We both screwed up. I'm sorry."

    The other one said, "I can't apologize for the other guy, and I won't apologize for me."


    October 19, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Akaej47

    You know if that was Governor Christie , he would be praised as a hero....that's what we put up with in New Jersey.

    October 19, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. gt

    jerk....alot of class ...not

    October 19, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Thomas, New Jersey tried to prosecute Aaron Burr for murder as a result of his duel with Alexander Hamilton. The US Circuit Court (as the District Courts were known back then) declared that as Hamilton died in New York, New Jersey had no standing in the case.

    October 19, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. redwhiteandblue

    Where can i get a tape of this? sounds interesting 🙂

    October 19, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Sandy

    One apologizes for his behavior, the other one doesn't. Hmmmm

    October 19, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    Rick McDaniel

    Democrats have a high propensity for name calling, derogatory comments, and other generally offensive behaviors

    this is truly the dumbest comment of the day. According to this fool, ONLY Democrats do this

    October 19, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. paul

    ....and one of these clowns will be elected.....this is the type of representation we have not only in Minnesota, but all over the country, on BOTH sides of the aisle.

    October 19, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Person of Interest

    Yep, these are the people we are going to allow to be in congress. We no longer have qualified candidates. The MO race between McCaskil and Adkin is actually close. I don't care whether you are a Rep or Dem, if you vote for someone that is stupid enough to believe that there is an anotomical response to a "legitimate" rape, you yourself are a moron.

    We should be electing statesmen (or women). Someone that has tact, diplomacy, and the intelligence to realize not everything you read on the internet is true. What we allow to run are nothing but a bunch of power hungry demagogues. Voting for them because you don't agree with the other candidate on abortion, tax code, etc. only perpetuates the cycle. So thanks America, keep on keeping on.

    October 19, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Ellison: Right, but still issued an acutal, sincere apology...nto some "I'm sorry you misunderstood me" or "not intended to be a factual statement" nosnense.

    Fields: Waited for Ellison to issue an apology so he could fail to do so himself for his own behavior while pretending he was justified in lying about who investigated his divorce.

    October 19, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "Democrats have a high propensity for name calling, derogatory comments, and other generally offensive behaviors."

    STFU, "moran."

    October 19, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. Namejkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    That's what they should call romney the tax cheat and lyin Ryan the sponge off the taxpayers for seven terms !!!!!

    October 19, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. Ken in MD

    Takes one to know one. Na na na na na.

    October 19, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. derp

    "Democrats have a high propensity for name calling, derogatory comments, and other generally offensive behaviors."

    You lie!

    October 19, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. Namejkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    I think we should have mud wrestling between the loon bachmann and her dem challenger?????

    October 19, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
1 2