- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican Frank Guinta, in a debate Monday night, repeatedly referred to Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s six years in Washington, ignoring his own two-year term as he tried to equate her with the entire length and breadth of the Obama administration.

Shea-Porter held New Hampshire’s 1st District seat for two terms before being ousted by Guinta in 2010. She defeated him to regain the seat in 2012, and the two are now facing each other for a third time.

During their latest debate, Guinta frequently criticized Shea-Porter by saying she has little to show for her six years in Congress on issues such as immigration, foreign policy and the economy. While it is true that her total tenure has been six years, his manner incorrectly suggested she was elected along with Obama. And he talked more about his accomplishments as mayor of Manchester from 2006-2010 than his own time in Washington.

“You’ve been in Congress for six years, and you have not been able to solve this problem at all,” he said when asked about college students struggling with debt. On that issue, Shea-Porter said students should be able to renegotiate the terms of their loans and that Congress was right to stop subsidizing banks to make student and eliminate the “middle man” between students and the government. Guinta said that hurt the private sector and caused people in New Hampshire to lose their jobs.

Early in their debate on WMUR-TV, the two were asked to describe their proudest accomplishments in Washington. Guinta mentioned a bill he sponsored to ensure that a veterans cemetery in the Philippines where thousands of Americans are buried is restored and maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Shea-Porter said the Affordable Care Act has been a tremendous help to New Hampshire’s previously uninsured population. She noted that five companies are expected to sell plans through the law’s new online marketplace this year, compared with only one last year, and several are keeping premiums steady.

“This is a remarkable piece of legislation that still needs improvement, we know that,” she said. “Ultimately, when I see and hear from people … it’s a huge success, and I’m proud of it.”

Guinta, who favors repealing the law, countered that the law is stifling small businesses and that thousands of residents will face tax penalties for not being covered.

“Sixty-five percent of the state doesn’t want it, but she’s doubling down on it,” he said.

It was unclear where Guinta got that figure. The University of New Hampshire Survey Center has polled residents on the law 20 times since February 2010 and opposition has never been more than 57 percent. In the latest poll, released earlier this month, 52 percent opposed the law.

The two also tangled over Guinta’s latest television ad, which accuses Shea-Porter of lying about his finances.

In 2010, Guinta amended a disclosure form to add a previously unreported bank account worth up to $500,000, raising questions about how he had been able to lend his campaign $355,000. After his Republican rivals raised it during the primary that year, the state Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission and the U.S. House. Guinta’s ad says the House Ethics Committee found him in compliance, but Shea-Porter said the FEC investigation remains open.

Guinta has denied the money was an illegal campaign donation and said his wife saved it working in the private sector.

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