- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster told business leaders Thursday that her bipartisan approach sets her apart from her Republican challenger, while Marilinda Garcia said voters want someone who will be accessible and willing to stall President Barack Obama’s failed policies.

The 2nd District opponents made separate appearances Thursday at a Nashua Chamber of Commerce forum, where they were asked to describe their greatest differences. Kuster, a Democrat, focused on governing styles, saying both her Republican parents and her long career as a lawyer have made her more willing to reach across the aisle than Garcia.

“It has to do with my bipartisan upbringing, it has to do with me being in the private sector, having 25 years of experience in the New Hampshire economy, and knowing that it’s not only the best way to get things done, frankly, often it’s the only way to get things done,” she said. “Just looking at (Garcia’s) role in the New Hampshire Legislature and the way she’s campaigned, she’s very wedded to this tea party - what I view as very extreme - point of view. It’s more ‘my way or the highway.’”

Garcia, a four-term state representative, cast Kuster as an Obama rubber stamp and someone who doesn’t listen to constituents. She said Kuster hasn’t held a public town-hall style meeting since taking office, and that most of the voters she meets oppose the president on health care, energy, taxes and other issues.

“The fact that Rep. Kuster claimed as recently as a few months ago to be one of the strongest supporters of the Obama administration and agenda shows a certain level of devotion and championing of those policies that does give me pause, and is of a concern to the people of the district as well.”

On a key local issue, Kuster said she would push hard for federal funding to expand passenger rail to Nashua if an upcoming feasibility study is positive. Garcia said she didn’t know enough about the idea to give an opinion, though she voted to repeal the state’s rail transit authority, which is studying the issue. Repeal supporters said at the time that government should not be involved in establishing rail because taxpayers wind up subsidizing government-operated trains.

Garcia’s answer didn’t satisfy Chris Williams, the chamber president and forum moderator.

“Being a state representative, you’ve had a lot of involvement in passenger rail issues, so you shouldn’t be completely naive or ignorant on the issue,” he said.

Garcia said she was neither naive nor ignorant and that she supports passenger rail in New Hampshire in theory, if it doesn’t burden taxpayers.

Williams also was fairly harsh when Kuster described a bill she sponsored that would provide tax breaks for businesses that partner with colleges on job training projects, noting that it didn’t get far in Congress. Most of the elements of a jobs plan Kuster released in 2014 met a similar fate, he said.

“Is it fair for someone to say, Ann, you’re great, you’ve got a heart of gold and you mean well, but you haven’t shown any real results,” he said.

Kuster blamed Republican House Speaker John Boehner for preventing bills from getting to the floor for a vote.

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