U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman said an unflattering video capturing his heated exchange with U.S. Rep. Howard Berman in a debate Thursday night may cost him a small number of voters, but that longtime supporters will shrug off the incident.
"This may cost me the votes of 300 people," Sherman said in a phone interview Friday. "If (Berman's campaign) can exploit the video."
Sherman acknowledged he'd crossed a line with Berman during the debate between the two 30th Congressional District candidates. The veteran Democratic lawmakers have been longtime colleagues but were forced to run against each other when the 30th congressional district was redrawn.
During an argument over a federal immigration bill, Berman, D-Van Nuys, walked over to Sherman and glared at him. Sherman, 57, D-Sherman Oaks, responded by throwing his arm roughly around the 71-year-old Berman's shoulders and saying: "You want to get into this?"
"I put my arm around him and that wasn't a cool thing to do," Sherman said on Friday.
But Sherman accused Berman's campaign manager, Brandon Hall, of editing out key parts of the video and "hyping and mischaracterizing" the exchange between the politicians. The first, 22-second video released by Berman's campaign shows only the direct confrontation, and not the arguments that led up to it, or that Berman first took a step toward Sherman and called him "delusional."
"I have never had someone rush in and put their nose in front of my nose," Sherman said.
Berman acknowledged at the end of the debate that things got heated between the two men, but those remarks were edited out of the final video, according to Sherman.
Following Thursday's debate, Berman's campaign seized on the incident, sending out two YouTube videos and a press release headlined "Brad Sherman attempts to start fight at college debate."
The videos and the story have gone viral, appearing on NBC's Today Show and even in a British newspaper. One snarky online post in The Jewish Daily Forward dubbed the incident: "When Balding Jews Attack."
Asked if he thought the video would hurt his campaign, Sherman replied: "Not really."
"If people don't know me, then I will have to explain (what happened) to them. But people in the West Valley know me...they know I face confrontation."
But he could lose support with voters who have just moved to the Valley, who might see the video, Sherman acknowledged. He figured that could translate to about 300 voters.
"This isn't anything that I am proud of," Sherman said, of Thursday's debate. "It's not going to go on my highlight reel."
Contact Dakota Smith at (818) 713-3761