Democratic congressional candidate Scott Wallace lost his cool during a debate with his Republican opponent held at a Pennsylvania synagogue on Sunday night, unleashing the “f-bomb” while standing on the bimah, local radio station WBCB reported.
Wallace’s outburst “silenced” the audience at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem and led to him being chided by the debate moderator, the station stated. It took place when he was questioning his opponent, incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, about his position on insurance for those with pre-existing conditions.
“Ironically, there was a later question about the need for civility in politics,” Fitzpatrick told WBCB. “Well, a good start is to not use vulgarities in the sanctuary of a synagogue in the middle of a congressional debate.”
Wallace and Fitzpatrick have been duking it out for months in Pennsylvania’s 1st district, located in a heavily-Jewish part of the Philadelphia suburbs. They have already had several fiery debates, including another one at a different synagogue on Oct. 14, where both candidates struggled when asked to say something they like about each other.
Wallace issued an apology on Monday.
“I was exasperated by yet another attempt from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to hide from his votes to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” he said. “I apologize for any offense that might have been taken, I am passionate about protecting people from insurance company abuses, and I’m sorry that in this instance, my frustration got the best of me.”
Wallace previously was the subject of criticism in the Jewish community after the Forward reported that the family charitable foundation he ran had given more than $300,000 to organizations that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. Wallace has said that he does not support BDS and that he did not personally approve the donations in question.
The local group Democratic Jewish Outreach of Pennsylvania withheld its endorsement of him over the issue but eventually reversed its position.
But that has not fully quelled the controversy. The Jewish Exponent reported that at the previous synagogue debate, held at Shir Ami in Newtown, Fitzpatrick verbally struggled when he was asked by the moderator what he agreed with Wallace on. A member of the audience then shouted out: “You don’t agree with funding BDS!”
Correction, October 25: A previous version of this article included one instance where Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s surname was listed as Fitzgerald.