VP debate not the only heated showdown – CBS News

Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev., left, and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., wait with moderator Mitch Fox for the lights to come back up after a power failure in the middle of their televised senate debate, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Las Vegas.

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AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

While millions of Americans watched last night’s face-off between Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, a handful of congressional candidates were also making their cases on the debate stage. And even if they weren’t nationally televised, a couple of the match-ups were equally heated – or more so: In California, two Democratic challengers nearly came to physical blows. Here are some of the night’s notable non-VP debate moments.

California Democrats narrowly avoid brawl

In a matchup between two California Democrats, things got heated to the point that the presiding Sheriff was compelled to intervene. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, two incumbent lawmakers who are running against each other as a result of redistricting in the state and California’s new open primary system, have been engaged in a brutal campaign for months. But in last night’s debate, at a community college in San Fernando Valley, the two nearly got in a physical altercation after Berman suggested his opponent might be “delusional.” Sherman stood up to dispute Berman’s assertions, and Berman stepped over to meet him – at which point Sherman forcibly put his arm around Berman.

“Do you want to get into this?” Sherman asked his rival, as a moderator frantically attempted to pull the two apart. Sherman stepped away moments before a law enforcement official approached, at which point the moderator pleaded that the two attempt to “get through a few more questions.”

According to Roll Call‘s Kyle Trygstad, the tension arose after Sherman accused Berman of lying about his legislative record.

“That is why, see, Brad … he lies,” Berman said. “He knows that I was House author of the DREAM Act, and he says, ‘He’s not the House author of the DREAM Act.’ He knows I was, it was my bill that passed the House. Why does he say that? … In the end, you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

It was while he argued this point that Sherman stood up.

After the debate, the Berman campaign was swift to seize on the incident as evidence that Sherman is unfit for office.

“At a debate in front of local college students Congressman Brad Sherman loses his mind and acts like a bully,” said Brandon Hall, a Berman adviser, in a statement. “This speaks directly to his temperament that is totally unsuitable for anyone, especially for a member of Congress. The Valley deserves better.”

Sherman, meanwhile, released a statement expressing “regret” that “the debate “was not conducted at the highest level.”

“I regret my part in allowing emotions to distract from the exchange of views,” he said.