**Updated October 12, 2010
During a debate with Republican Congressional candidate Jon Runyan on Monday night in Cherry Hill, Congressman John Adler, New Jersey Democrat denied any involvement with the recruitment of self-proclaimed tea party candidate, Peter DeStefano, who is running against them both. (Background information here)
In fact, Mr. DeStefano was the last person Mr. Adler wanted to talk about when first asked about it and initially only spoke about Mr. Runyan’s tax plan. However, audience members booed the Congressman’s evasiveness and demanded an answer.(listen to audio)
“As for the Tea party, I wanted to have nothing to do with it, I told my people to have nothing to do with it, and as far as I know we have nothing to do with it.” However, Mr. Adler’s response was not exactly a denial of the issue either. He refused to say if South Jersey Democrats had anything to do with planting Mr. DeStefano in the race, as the AP also noticed.
Additionally, Rep. Adler refused to speak to me (listen to audio) about the matter prior the debate or to others in the press during and after the event.
Unfortunately, debate organizers at the Katz Jewish Community Center allowed for no questions to the two men from credentialed journalists covering the debate and permitted questions from audience members only. This played heavily into Mr. Adler’s advantage, as many in the media continue to cover Mr. DeStefano’s mysterious recruitment and 3rd party candidacy.
Furthermore, the JCRC could not indicate who in the audience asking questions of both Mr. Runyan and Mr. Adler was a district voter, a staffer or volunteer from either campaign, or general statement maker. It should be noted that staffers we’re adamant about keeping press away from the Congressman even before the event.
Mr. Adler has made himself elusive throughout his campaign and managed to slip out the back door of the Katz Jewish Community Center after the debate, while Mr. Runyan stayed afterward and answered questions from the press. Below is video from MyFox Philly regarding Congressman Adler’s strange absence from the campaign trail.