Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said he should not have put his hands on his opponent in a debate Thursday night but told the Associated Press he was not threatening violence.
Sherman is locked in a Democratic member vs. member race against Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.). At a debate in Pierce College, Sherman grabbed Berman around the shoulder and shouted, “Do you want to get into this?”
Earlier on Friday, Sherman released a statement saying he “regretted his part in allowing emotions to distract from the exchange of views.”
"I touched him, I put my arm around his shoulder, I should not have done that," he told the AP.
The two were arguing about the original author of the DREAM Act, a bill that would give citizenship to students who came to this country illegally if they attended college or joined the military.
In the AP interview, Sherman held back from blaming Berman for the incident. The statement he released earlier in the day said the incident “started” when Berman called him a “liar and delusional.”
Sherman said voters will not read much into the incident, aside from novelty.
"They are not focused on a video that makes good entertainment television for somebody who wants to do a show about congressmen behaving badly," he said.
At the end of the debate Thursday night, Berman said the race had become emotional and heated.
“We think that when smears are made, and when untruths are said, a person has to defend himself and that raises the intensity of debate,” Berman said according to a transcript released by the Sherman campaign.
Sherman said he agreed with the statement.