The hotly contested race between Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman got a little hotter Thursday night when, toward the end of their debate at Pierce College, Sherman grabbed Berman and shouted "Do you want to get into this?"
The Berman campaign soon responded with a press release, linking to YouTube videos it posted of the incident, alleging that Sherman was trying to start a fight.
In the two clips of the same incident—one 23 seconds, the other 71 seconds (see attached)—the audience is hooting and hollering as Sherman is shouting at Berman while the two men stand on stage. Sherman yells at Berman, "Don't get in my face. Stay away from me." Sherman then puts his arm around Berman's shoulders, pulls him nose-to-nose and continues shouting.
- UPDATE 3 p.m. 10/12: The Jewish Journal, which had a staff writer at the event, reported that the altercation came after the candidates' argued over whether Berman was the original author in 2001 of the DREAM Act.
The two Democratic candidates, who are fighting for the same seat in the 30th Congressional District, briefly exchange words and then step away from each other as a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy and others step onto the stage in an apparent attempt to calm the situation.
Sherman's campaign issued a press release late Thursday saying that Berman's staff had "wildly" exaggerated and mischaracterized the incident. It also posted its own video (see attached).
"The event began when Berman began yelling that Sherman was a liar and delusional," the statement said. "Berman then went over to Sherman’s table and confronted Sherman nose to nose."
The press release also included the following statement from Sherman:
“The Pierce College debate was not conducted at the highest level. I regret my part in allowing emotions [to] distract from the exchange of views.”