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Shaheen, Brown outline the ‘clear choice’ for N.H.

Last modified: 10/23/2014 12:13:34 AM
As they sparred on stage at last night’s U.S. Senate debate, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her Republican challenger Scott Brown repeated many of the lines they’ve used to outline the “clear choice” New Hampshire voters will face Election Day.

Brown said that involves a decision between a senator who will continue “voting with the president 99 percent of the time” – a statistic he has cited many times on the campaign trail and did so again last night – and someone new who pledges to send the state in an “independent leadership direction.” In answers to questions about the government’s approach to managing Ebola, the Affordable Care Act, immigration, the Islamic State and more, Brown reiterated over and over again the assertion that Shaheen has operated in lockstep with President Obama and all of his mistakes.

Shaheen, on the other hand, stood by her votes on the Affordable Care Act and repeatedly accused Brown of “fear mongering” and “grandstanding” on Ebola, border security and other issues.

When asked directly whether she approves of the president, Shaheen skirted a panelist’s request for a yes-or-no answer: In some cases she does, she said, but in some she doesn’t.

When Shaheen asked Brown about his support for legislation that paved the way for outsourcing, he instead pointed to a measure Shaheen supported as governor that outsourced parts of the state’s food stamp program to India.

“I think outsourcing has a lot of different meanings,” Brown continued. “When you actually were elected, you said you’d be an independent senator. And you outsourced that independence by voting with the president over 99 percent of the time.”

The candidates were at their most combative when discussing energy. Brown began to assert that his opponent is “against nuclear” when Shaheen interjected, “No I’m not.”

“Where did you get that?” she asked.

Brown said Shaheen made an effort to stop the Seabrook nuclear power plant, at which point Shaheen also objected: “I was not in office at the time.” On social media and elsewhere, Republicans were quick to point to a video clip of Shaheen from a 1987 TV clip of Close Up in which she expressed opposition to the power plant, calling nuclear power “dangerous.”

Toward the end of the debate, moderator Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press asked Brown why he decided to run in New Hampshire after losing his Massachusetts seat to Elizabeth Warren in 2012.

“Because I live here,” Brown said, explaining that his mother worked as a waitress on Hampton Beach and his father worked in the state as an airman. “I have long and strong ties. I’m running because I care about New Hampshire and care about restoring America. That’s why I’m running.”

Todd then posed the question to Shaheen, pointing out that she was born in Missouri. Here, Shaheen pointed to the lag between Brown’s loss in Massachusetts and his decision to run in New Hampshire.

“I don’t think New Hampshire’s a consolation prize,” Shaheen said, repeating a line she’s used throughout her campaign.

In one of the final questions, the candidates – who have both lost Senate races before – were asked to reflect on what they learned in those moments of defeat.

“Sometimes there are factors beyond your control and there are things that happen in the country that affect a race, and I think we’re seeing this now in this race,” Shaheen said. “I think what we need is responsible officials who are going to try and address the problems that we face.”

Brown, on the other hand, said the loss reinforced the love for his family – who stuck with him throughout the campaign.

“And that life does go on,” he added, “and defeat is only temporary.”

Held at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, last night’s debate was co-hosted by New England Cable News, the Monitor and the University of New Hampshire.

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)


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