Congressman Keith Ellison is no stranger to controversy or harsh words, having faced years of unfounded accusations over his religious faith. However, during Ellison’s recent debate with Chris Fields, he exceeded all bounds of good taste, calling his opponent a “lowlife scumbag.”
Fields is campaigning for the Congressional seat the progressive Minnesota Democrat has held since 2007. There is a wide political gulf between the two men, with ultra liberal Ellison strongly supporting President Obama’s policies and Fields saying he will to return America to conservative values, oppose abortion and repeal Obama Care.
The uproar began when Mr. Fields accused Ellison of hiring a Washington, D.C. based research firm to smear him. An article in The Minneapolis Star Tribune claimed Field’s ex-wife requested a restraining order against her husband in 2006 and Fields insisted the Congressman was the source. Ellison took offense to the accusation and replied to the comment by saying, “You’re really stupid. You’re a scumbag. You’re a lowlife scumbag. You are a gutter dweller.”
The mood in the room was poisoned from the start, with Ellison saying on several occasions, “You lie all the time! You have no respect for the truth, anything you say is suspect.” At one point, Ellison claimed his opponent failed to pay his campaign vendors, and during an argument over taxes, the Congressman angrily shouted, ”That’s ridiculous, that’s another bold-faced lie. It amazes me that you could sit here with a straight face. I’m not going to deal with you because you’re just silly–really.”
Instead of taking the high ground after the “scumbag” remark, Fields brought up Mr. Ellison’s divorce and suggested the Congressman was not making his child support payments. The two men appeared to be on the verge of blows, when Ellison exclaimed, ”My daughter is in the next room. I’m using a lot of self-control right now, sir.” Fortunately, the moderator called for a break, and when the debate resumed, the questions were directed to the less provocative subject of Climate Change.
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