Rep. John Dingell's (D-Mich.) Republican opponent, Rob Steele, was a no-show at a candidate forum Thursday night, but the 84-year-old congressman apparently got an earful from a Republican running for the Michigan state House.
Republican Chase Ingersoll repeatedly shouted Dingell down at the forum, at one point making an obscene gesture while the congressman was speaking, according to a report on AnnArbor.com.
Ingersoll was asked by event organizers to tone down his behavior several times during the forum.
He challenged Dingell on his support for healthcare reform, loudly accusing the 28-term incumbent of misrepresenting the law.
"There's a whole array of rights that are there," Dingell said. "It will be very much like the law that was written in Massachusetts, which is working quite well and which was defended by Mitt Romney while, I'm told, he was a Republican presidential candidate."
Ingersoll fired back, speaking out of turn again.
"And what did Mr. Romney say?" Ingersoll asked in a raised voice. "What does Mr. Romney say now about the health care legislation in Massachusetts? He said that it's not working--costs have gone up and services down. If Mr. Steele was here, he'd clean your clock on that issue, Mr. Dingell. That's why you only are having one debate with him."
Dingell had to leave about an hour into the forum. Before walking out, he turned to the crowd and said he was leaving those still in attendance at the mercy of Ingersoll.
"Be nice to him," Dingell quipped.
Steele had planned to attend, but canceled at the last minute. Steele's campaign relayed news partway through the forum that he was unavoidably stuck at another event.
Some Republicans are convinced the man who is currently the longest-serving member of the House is vulnerable in 2010, in large part due to his leading role in healthcare reform.
A Detroit News poll from mid-September gave Dingell a 19-point lead over Steele. But the challenger touted internal numbers in late September that showed Dingell ahead by a fairly slim margin — 51 percent to 42.