Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider went toe-to-toe on abortion rights, political allegiances and even their private-industry resumes Wednesday during a feisty interview session with the Daily Herald.
Dold, who portrays himself as an independent voice in Washington, bristled at continued accusations from Schneider and other Democrats that he's aligned with the conservative Tea Party, calling the claims outrageous and deceptive.
The freshman lawmaker from Kenilworth unfurled a pages-long analysis of congressional voting records to show he often breaks with his party.
To say otherwise is "so disingenuous, it doesn't even pass the laugh test," Dold told reporters and editors at the Herald's headquarters in Arlington Heights.
Schneider had to play a little defense, too, when Dold made reference to GOP videos and blog reports that questioned why the Democrat's consulting firm hasn't reported any income in recent years.
A first-time candidate from Deerfield who has campaigned on his business experience, Schneider explained he put the business on hold to run for office, and he called the reports "a smoke screen."
Dold, the part owner of a family pest control business, pointed out he's been in office only since 2011. Schneider, he said, sounds like someone "who's looking for work."
But the two candidates for the 10th House District seat found some common ground, too, particularly when it comes to boosting American manufacturing, opposing the influence of super PACs on campaigns and the desire for teachers to focus more on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Those connections were infrequent during the hourlong discussion, however.
Redrawn for this election, the 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties. It's been called the most Democratic-leaning House district represented by a Republican.
Abortion rights was among the issues that got Dold and Schneider worked up Wednesday.
Schneider called Dold "wishy-washy" on the matter, criticizing him for voting against funding Planned Parenthood after an earlier vote that would have given the group federal money.
"You have a sometimes record on women's reproductive rights," said Schneider, who supports abortion rights.
Dold, who has said he also backs a woman's right to choose, proudly said he was the only Republican to defend Planned Parenthood on the House floor earlier this year.
Dold explained he later voted to end that financial support only because the measure was part of a plan to keep government funded.
The candidates went on to feud about Dold's support for a 2011 abortion-related proposal Schneider dubbed the "Let Women Die Act." Dold called the phrase offensive and accused Schneider of being "misinformed" about the bill.
A bit later, Schneider criticized Dold for signing conservative activist and lobbyist Grover Norquist's pledge to oppose tax increases, accusing Dold of signing the document twice.
Dold said he signed it only once, when he first ran for office, and insisted he's broken that promise already.
When asked if he regrets signing Norquist's controversial pledge, Dold sounded contrite.
"It's not beneficial to trying to move things forward," he said of such oaths.
Schneider said he'd never sign Norquist's pledge.
"I don't think you should sign a pledge, other than a pledge to the Constitution," he said.