- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and Republican Frank Guinta sparred Tuesday night over familiar topics such as health care and the economy and tussled over new ones such as Ebola and terrorist threats.

The two met for their first televised debate this year, broadcast on NH1 News. They are squaring off for the third time to represent New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district, which includes the Seacoast, Manchester and the Lakes Region. Shea-Porter won the seat in 2006, lost it to Guinta in 2010 then won it back in 2012.

Guinta criticized Shea-Porter for voting for the Affordable Care Act, which he said isn’t working in New Hampshire because thousands of people were not allowed to keep the private insurance plans they had. While in Congress, Guinta voted to repeal the law.

Shea-Porter asked Guinta how he could justify taking health care away from people, including those with pre-existing conditions, by repealing the law. Guinta said he’d like to see market-based solutions to lower costs.

On the economy, Shea-Porter said she’s been working to undo cuts to government spending made through the budget sequester, which passed while Guinta was in office. The sequester hurt places such as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, she said.

Guinta said Shea-Porter has nothing to show for on improving the economy. “She has not been able to deliver on the very promise that she made almost six years ago to help middle class families,” he said.

On Ebola and the Islamic State, Shea-Porter and Guinta found middle ground. Both said the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond fast enough to the first case of Ebola in the United States, but Guinta was more forceful in his criticisms. Shea-Porter took aim at Guinta for supporting budgets that cut funding to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health.

“I feel very comfortable saying the president and the administration should have done more, faster,” she said. “I think that Frank Guinta should feel comfortable saying yeah, that he screwed up by cutting the funding there.”

Both agreed that Congress should vote on any further U.S. engagement to fight terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Shea-Porter said she does not support U.S. troops on the ground, while Guinta did not give a definitive answer. He said he’d consider supporting any plan to eliminate the Islamic State terrorist group permanently but has not seen a clear one from the president. Shea-Porter recently voted against arming moderate Syrian rebels to help fight the Islamic State.

Both also agree that American troops shouldn’t be sent to fight terrorists in Iraq and Syria and that Congress should get a vote on any plans to fight the Islamic State. Shea-Porter recently voted against arming moderate Syrian rebels.

Guinta did not directly answer whether he would support expanding gun background checks, but said he thinks efforts to curb gun violence needs to focus on criminals, not law abiding citizens. Shea-Porter said she would support expanding background checks.

The election is Nov. 4.

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