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2nd District NH rivals both claim bipartisan label

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 10:30 am •  Published: November 3, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Bass and Democratic rival Ann McLane Kuster are each claiming the mantle of most bipartisan in New Hampshire's tightly contested 2nd Congressional District race.

Kuster often points to her upbringing by Republican parents while Bass talks about working with Democrats on legislation.

Bass beat Kuster by about 3,500 votes two years ago, and the tone of this year's race started civilly as a rematch between two people whose families were friends. But the negative ads have taken a toll with the rhetoric growing sharper as Tuesday's election nears in a race viewed as a tossup.

Bass, who's held the seat for almost 14 years, calls Kuster just another tax-and-spend liberal Democrat and is running an ad of a Kuster lookalike dancing from tax to tax.

Kuster says Bass is a Washington insider who is part of gridlock in Congress. She ran an ad depicting him as a fish who has lost his way.

Kuster accused a Bass campaign staff member of political bullying by thrusting a video camera in her face while she was talking to someone. Kuster grabbed the camera from the campaign worker and returned it later. An audio clip of her cursing the worker later surfaced in an ad run by an independent organization against her.

Bass' campaign also called reporters' attention to a forum where they said Kuster tried to grab the microphone from Bass during his closing remarks. Now Bass has combined the two incidents into a new ad claiming Kuster will vote for taxes that uses the dancing lookalike to grab what the announcer says is the voter's wallet.

Despite the race's increasingly negative, personal tone, Bass and Kuster each insist if elected they will be able to work with the other party. They both say the first legislation they would work on would be bipartisan.

Kuster said she would work to give tax breaks to American companies bringing jobs home from overseas.

"Companies get tax deductions when they move their jobs overseas. I would eliminate those tax deductions and instead create tax incentives for new jobs at home," she said.

Bass would renew efforts with a small group of Republicans and Democrats to find a bipartisan resolution to the country's reaching its debt limit when a series of tax increases and spending cuts take effect.

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