A video clip of Democratic congressional candidate Ann McLane Kuster grabbing the camera of a staffer for U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, R-NH, at last week’s Statehouse rally with Vice President Joe Biden is going viral on the Internet after it was posted online by NHJournal.com.
The video purported to show a Bass staffer, later identified by the New Hampshire Union Leader as Bryan Klepacki, tracking Kuster while she was talking with former 1st Congressional District candidate Joanne Dowdell at the Biden event on Sept. 21.
Klepacki, while recording, attempted to get Kuster’s attention on a number of occasions before she grabbed the camera from him. Klepacki requested the camera back and Kuster said, “Nope,” before asking Klepacki if he is harassing her.
“I’m not trying to harass you,” Klepacki stated.
“I’ll call Charlie,” Kuster countered, “and I’ll tell him when you can have the camera back.”
As she walked away, Kuster could be heard saying, “F-him.”
The video tracking of candidates has become a popular phenomenon as rival campaigns attempt to catch the opposing side in an awkward, uncomfortable, or embarrassing moment.
At the Biden event, the vice president heaped praise on Kuster, saying it had been great getting to know her on the campaign trail.
Bass addressed the video in Salem on Wednesday, calling video tracking of candidates a "sad reality" but also "the way of life" in campaigns. He called Kuster's reaction in this instance "a little bit unexpected."
Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the Bass campaign, said in a statement that it is "routine" for candidates to ask questions on camera at events about opinions and political positions.
"There are certainly several people that canvass such events with cameras on behalf of the Kuster campaign," he said. "What makes this incident unusual is that the candidate ripped the camera out of the hand of someone attempting to ask her a question, refused to return it, and then verbally insulted him.”
In an emailed statement, Kuster claimed that Bass sent the staffer to track her at a public event and "nearly hit me in the face" with the camera during a conversation with Dowdell.
"I briefly took the camera from him and asked one of my supporters to return it moments later," she noted.
Kuster compared it to the "political bullying by Congressman Bass and the House Republicans (that) has resulted in a failed, do-nothing Congress. Bass's political bullying hasn't worked in Washington and I won't let it intimidate me or my campaign in New Hampshire." She said this kind of bullying is "what politicians do to try and save their political careers" in Washington.
"I am eager to debate the issues with Congressman Bass in a respectful and civil way, but I won't tolerate the Bass campaign’s attempts to intimidate me," she said.
Follow-up: Political experts wonder: Did tracker cross the line or did Kuster lose her cool?
Bass Addresses Kuster Video Flap