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Since there’s no Miranda warning when running for office, politicians never know if something they say on the campaign trail will be used against them by an opponent.
New Hampshire Democrat Ann McLane Kuster found that out during the earliest stages of her rematch for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District against Rep. Charles Bass, R-NH. He narrowly beat Kuster in 2010, 48.3 to 46.7 percent.
The day after Kuster filed papers in the Secretary of State’s office, Bass criticized her remarks and said she was out of touch.
"After filing to run … Democrat Annie Kuster stated that debate over America’s debt limit is not an important issue of the day," Bass said in an email to the press.
That seemed like a curious thing to say, so PolitiFact New Hampshire decided to tune in to Kuster’s statement to find out if Bass was right.
Bass cited a video recorded by a Patch reporter that captured the filing.
"I think the voters are just fired up," Kuster said in the video. "They realize Congress is broken and we need a new approach and honestly, we need a voice for hardworking New Hampshire families in Washington and people realize that their needs are not being met, that Congress is bickering over the debt limits and they’re off on arguing about things that aren't even the issues of the day. We need to create good jobs right here at home and so I’m going down to Washington to work hard for New Hampshire families and let’s bring some good jobs and let’s give people opportunity, that’s all they’re looking for."
We contacted Bass’ campaign to get his reasoning behind the claim. Bass’ "Victory Committee" spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne pointed to the video, quoting Kuster as saying, "Congress is bickering over the debt limits, they're off on arguing about things that aren't even issues of the day."
"It is fair therefore by her own statement that she believes that ‘bickering’ over the debt limit and ‘…arguing about things that aren't even issues of the day.’ It’s apparent from her own words that she does not believe the deficit is an important issue of the day," Tranchemontagne said in an email.
Not quite. For one, Tranchemontagne left out the word "and" when quoting Kuster. It’s a small word, but words matter. And his selective quote ignored the full context of her claim.
Tranchemontagne went on to give "debt-limit" definitions from the United States Treasury Department, pointed to the last budget resolution passed in the Senate was on April 29, 2009, and that Bass was one of the cosponsors of the Cooper-LaTourette alternative budget, a bipartisan plan that got only 38 votes in the House.
When we talked to Kuster’s people, they said Bass missed key parts of Kuster’s statement in his characterization.
"I guess I could creatively edit this to say that she says that," Kuster Campaign Manager Garrick Delzell said."I don’t even think they’re taking something out of context, they’re trying to make something be there that isn’t there."
Indeed, a careful reading of Kuster's statement shows that Bass’ news release left out two parts. It skipped over the introductory part that says people’s "needs are not being met," and they omitted the "and," which separates her two statements about bickering over debt limits and arguing over unimportant issues.
"Clearly, anything that affects our economy at such a fragile time is a very important issue and the debt limit is one of those things," Delzell said. "Annie believes that representatives in Congress did a terrible job by holding our economy hostage when we were negotiating on whether to increase the debt limit."
In other words, Kuster backed up a statement about unmet needs with a statement about debt limit bickering. She ended with another statement about Congress’ focus on other subjects that aren’t "issues of the day" -- however Kuster does not say the debt limit is one of them.
Bass said that Kuster said the debate over America’s debt limit is not an important issue of the day.
But a review of Kuster's full remarks show that's not what she said . As part of a longer comment about how Congress is dysfunctional, she complains that lawmakers are "bickering over the debt limits and they’re off on arguing about things that aren't even the issues of the day."
Her comments indicate she is unhappy with "bickering" over the debt, but she doesn't go so far as to say the debt is not an important issue. We rate Bass’ claim False.
Email, "Why Does Annie Kuster Believe Our $15.7 Trillion National Debt Is Not An "Issue of the Day?" June 8, 2012.
Email correspondence with Bass Victory Committee spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne, June 20-22, 2012.
Email correspondence and phone interview with Kuster Campaign Manager Garrick Delzell, June 26, 2012.
"VIDEO: Kuster Says She's Going to Win this Time," Salem Patch, June 7, 2012.
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