Scott Brown takes heat from Smith, Rubens, voters at NH Farm Bureau picnic
There were blueberries and there was bunting. There was ice cream and corduroy, corn on the cob, and cranky toddlers.
Except for the issues – and candidates promoting their websites in their stump speeches – last night’s New Hampshire Farm Bureau event with Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate could have come during any election in the 19th century.
The farm bureau and the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association have held a pre-primary stump speech picnic for 12 years, at a different farm across the state each time. Last night it was held for the first time at Carter Hill Orchard in Concord.
Jim Rubens, Scott Brown and Bob Smith spoke before farm bureau members with one month until the Sept. 9 Republican primary to determine who will face incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
The three railed against Shaheen for supporting President Obama’s policies, particularly his signature health care law. Rubens and Smith also took some time to criticize Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts.
Smith’s campaign yesterday also criticized the Republican National Committee in an open letter for a fundraising email sent last week appearing to favor Scott Brown in the primary.
“You watch Fox News, it’s all about Scott Brown,” he said. “I tell people, if next time you’re watching Monday Night Football and it’s all ‘Scott Brown, Scott Brown, Scott Brown,’ think of me. I’m not on there so I get free advertising,” he said, to one of the loudest of the night’s tepid rounds of applause.
In his remarks, Brown called for unity, alluding to Smith’s refusal to sign a pledge to support whichever of them wins the primary. Rubens signed the pledge after first requiring commitment from Brown to add more debates to the campaign schedule.
“A united Republican Party with those good independents and those Democrats, those good Reagan, JFK Democrats is Senator Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and the Democratic Party’s worst nightmare,” he said.
He also took a question from Jackie Cilley, who ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor in 2012.
“We are killing our middle class and putting our most vulnerable at a disadvantage in terms of being consumers. . . . Our next senator has to be in there fighting to expand that middle class and grow consumers because they’re really the job creators. What will you do in that regard?” she asked.
“The biggest challenge affecting everybody including the middle class, it’s that lack of regulatory and tax certainty, and as a result they’re not hiring,” Brown said.
“If you watched the special report by Bret Baier last night, you would understand – and I would encourage you all to do it – you would understand what those challenges are those businesses are facing,” he said.
Brown was interviewed for Baier’s documentary, which was scheduled to air on Fox News three times this weekend. Brown was also a paid contributor at Fox News until mid-March, when he formed an exploratory committee that led to this campaign. Campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton has said Brown did not have discussions with anyone at the network about the documentary while he was working there.
Rubens and Smith took the stage together at the end of the event, after Brown had left, to answer more questions from the audience.
Rubens pledged to limit his own terms of office and work for a constitutional amendment for term limits. He supports public funding for elections that still allows for outside campaign contributions, he said. He also supports early-term abortion rights and said he believes the evidence that humans are causing climate change “is as solid as the evidence for gravity and that cigarettes cause cancer.”
He’d like to end all federal subsidies for energy – from ethanol and solar to oil and coal – and allow the free market to create new sources of fuel, he said.
Smith said the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision “was a mistake and I’d like to overturn if I could but I’m not a Supreme Court justice.” He said he’s seen no convincing evidence that human activity is causing climate change.
Several farmers said they attended the event primarily for the educational seminar on the emerald ash borer earlier in the afternoon. Few said they had decided already how – or if – they will vote Sept. 9. But several said they don’t plan to support Brown.
“I think he’s just here for his own good. . . . And his approach to agriculture was not, I don’t want to say it was a fairy tale, but it wasn’t as grounded as the others,” said David Babson of Ossipee.
Smith “showed a greater passion for the job than either of the others,” said Babson, a former state representative. And Rubens’s speech made Babson begin to reconsider his opposition to the candidate because of political battles the two had fought when Rubens was a state senator.
“I’ll have to think about it. I probably won’t know until I get in the voting booth,” Babson said.
“It’s hard to believe any politicians,” said Pauline Marston of Northwood. “They all make promises they can’t keep. Unless you know them personally, I don’t know how you’d believe you can trust them.”
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)
This story has been updated to reflect Jim Rubens position on the party unity pledge to support the winner of the Sept. 9 primary.