Pro-Rubens PAC begins attacking Scott Brown
A pro-Jim Rubens political action committee announced a significant shift in message yesterday: less about why Jim Rubens is the right candidate, more about why Scott Brown is the wrong one.
The New Hampshire PAC to Save America’s new message centers around Brown’s record of voting with President Obama more than 60 percent of the time for each year he represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. In 2012, he voted with Obama 78 percent of the time, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly.
“I think a question for Scott Brown is what is the acceptable percentage for him to vote with President Obama?” Mike Dennehy, a Republican strategist and consultant for the PAC, said in a press call. “Is it 90, is it 80, is it 78 (percent) like he did? Because I think maybe a question Republican voters need to ask is, ‘Do Republicans want a nominee representing them, do they want a U.S. Senator who votes more with President Obama than with the Republican Party?’ ”
Rubens, Brown and former U.S. senator Bob Smith will face off in the Sept. 9 Republican primary for the chance to challenge incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.
The PAC started several months ago and has been sending out direct mail pieces calling Rubens the “authentic conservative” in the race. Any future advertisements will still mention Rubens, but the focus will shift more toward Brown, Dennehy said.
That shift began with a new website, unveiled yesterday, called realscottbrownrecord.com. The site highlights areas where Brown has split from the party platform, including on taxes, spending and gun control. The PAC will also begin anti-Brown advertising within the next week. Dennehy declined to say what means of advertising the PAC will use, but said they will not start on television and that the PAC won’t be able to compete with the outside interests backing Brown.
Brown’s campaign declined to comment on the PAC or its attacks against him.
When asked about the PAC’s support, Rubens’s campaign said voters are beginning to see that he is the best Republican to take on Shaheen and is not a career politician.
“Jim Rubens is the single Republican who can debate and contrast Jeanne Shaheen on all the issues where she is wrong and can break gridlock with his bold, principled solutions to the nation’s big challenges,” Communications Director Brian Tilton said.
Brown has crafted his campaign around attacking Shaheen for voting with Obama 99 percent of the time in 2013. But Dennehy said that attack line is meaningless when Brown himself voted in line with Obama’s wishes more than half the time. Brown has also changed his positions in several key areas yet has failed to explain those changes, Dennehy said.
On guns, the website points to Brown’s statement of support for an assault weapons ban after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as well as his opposition that would allow people to use concealed carry permits across state lines. On taxes, the PAC hits him for voting for the 2013 fiscal cliff deal that solidified some tax increases. On energy policy, Brown voted for a regional cap and trade program as a Massachusetts lawmaker but now says he opposes cap and trade, the website says.
“The bottom line is who’s the real Scott Brown?” Dennehy said. “Scott Brown should either stand up and defend his record or explain why he has changed on so many issues of critical importance to Republican voters.
Rubens himself has switched his position on what was once a central issue to his campaign: a carbon tax. He promoted a carbon tax when he first launched his campaign but now he does not, saying that it is a losing issue and he is looking for solutions.
Despite the PAC’s pro-Rubens bent, Dennehy acknowledged that Brown has a “great” chance of winning the nomination. Rubens has been campaigning for a year yet still struggles with name identification and trails Brown and Smith in most polls.
And while the launch of yesterday’s website should have sparked a day of anti-Brown talking points, Rubens and Smith instead began attacking each other. Dennehy said on the call it would be “helpful” if Smith dropped out. In response, the Smith campaign called for Rubens to drop out instead and pointed to Smith’s win in a straw poll this past weekend at the annual Coalition for New Hampshire Tax Payers picnic, in which 154 people cast votes.
“The Smith Campaign is becoming an unstoppable tsunami assisted by a heavy breeze coming from Virginia,” Smith’s campaign manager Jack Kimball wrote in an email titled “Rubens Should Step Aside.”
Rubens and Smith then proceeded to challenge the other’s credentials via Twitter.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)