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Lawmaker Conciliatory After Fight in Congress

November 22, 1995|TONY PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — With the budget deadlock unlocked, members of Congress are returning to their districts to explain what the fight in Washington was all about.

In the case of Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham (R-San Diego), the fight was a real one, albeit brief.

Cunningham says he is unscathed and forgives his Democratic assailant, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia.

Late Friday, Moran pushed Cunningham from behind as they were leaving the House chambers and then took a swing at him, which Cunningham blocked. "He sucker-punched me," Cunningham said.

Capital police and Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) broke up the confrontation before it could escalate. Moran said he was incensed when, during a debate on sending troops to Bosnia, Cunningham charged that Moran had "switched his vote and turned his back on Desert Storm."

Cunningham later asked that his comment be expunged from the Congressional Record, and Moran took to the floor to apologize, adding, "We are supposed to be engaged in a battle of ideas, demonstrating to the American people and other countries how we settle our differences in a nonviolent way."

Neither congressman is known for passivity.

Last month, Cunningham, a former Navy fighter pilot, grabbed Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego) by the lapels to block Filner from crashing a press conference by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Moran, a former amateur boxer, once threatened to bust the nose of a Republican congressman from Indiana.

"Jim has been under a lot of stress recently, with a sick child," Cunningham said Tuesday in San Diego as he accompanied Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) to a campaign stop. "I accept his apology."

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