State Sen. Daylin Leach and former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies continued to trade barbs Tuesday night, with Margolies criticizing Leach for living outside the 13th Congressional District he seeks to represent, and Leach insinuating that Margolies held President Bill Clinton hostage in exchange for her vote on his 1993 budget.
"I would never say to the president, 'If you don't give me a deal by coming to my district, I'm going to sink your budget,' " Leach said, referencing the eleventh-hour switch in which Margolies agreed to cast the final vote to pass Clinton's pivotal spending plan. "I would never say to my constituents . . . 'I'm not going to vote for it unless it's the deciding vote, so people think I'm against it even though I'm really for it.' "
Margolies defended her vote, saying she had real problems with some of the budget and agreed to support it only after Clinton said he would take a deeper look at reforming Social Security.
The heated exchanges came during a debate at the Portuguese Club in Northeast Philadelphia.
Leach and Margolies, two of the four Democrats running for Allyson Y. Schwartz's seat in Northeast Philadelphia and southern Montgomery County, have gotten increasingly personal in recent weeks.
"The voters will decide what kind of campaigns you and I have waged," Margolies said of Leach. "Of course that does not include you, as you alone among the candidates will not be able to vote, because you . . . do not live in the district."
Leach responded: "I live about 200 yards from the district. I do not find myself confused when I walk across Brookwood [Road] at the strange land I find myself in."
Physician Valerie Arkoosh largely stayed away from the personal jabs, but did weigh in for the first time on allegations that Margolies violated campaign-finance law.
"The rules are crystal-clear, and I think the constituents in the 13th District deserve a representative that follows those rules without question and has nothing to hide," Arkoosh said.
Moderator Tom Waring, editor of the Northeast Times, asked Margolies whether she would release her campaign's financial records.
Margolies responded: "We will be filing an answer to that complaint, and then we will wait to see what the [Federal Election Commission] does."
Leach, Margolies, and Arkoosh all said they would endorse and campaign for whichever Democrat wins the primary.
State Rep. Brendan Boyle said he did not attend the debate because it had been organized by John Sabatina Sr., a Margolies supporter.
"It is a farce that a debate organized by the Margolies campaign could truly be a neutral event," Boyle said in a news release Tuesday.
All four candidates have signed on to participate in another debate May 14, hosted by the Upper Moreland Democrats. The election is May 20.