Brown, Shaheen Spar In First Debate

Oct 6, 2014

Credit Boverman/Jensen for NHPR

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and GOP challenger Scott Brown sparred over reproductive rights Monday in a debate held at North Conway’s Grand Hotel.

Shaheen used this debate to emphasized her record supporting access to abortion and contraception, and to question Brown’s claim that he is pro-choice.

“I think you have to look at what he’s done. When he was in the Senate he was sponsor of something called the Blunt amendment, which was an amendment that would have given any employer for any moral reason the ability to deny any employee the right to any health care benefit and it was aimed at denying women access to contraceptive care.”

Brown countered that he is indeed pro-choice. But said he does support a corporation’s ability, on religious grounds, to control whether its health care plans will include contraception, as the U.S. Supreme Court found in the Hobby Lobby decision.

"Why was there even a Hobby Lobby case? It’s because of Obamacare where they mandated that certain actions been taken. To think that I wouldn’t support women’s rights and the ability to get contraception is just a false premise. I have since I was 18 years old.”

The candidates staked out differences on issues ranging from energy policy to heath care and border security.

From the outset, Brown linked Shaheen to President Obama at every possible turn, no more so than when he derided the president’s response to the threat of terrorism emerging in the Middle East as “confused” and “incoherent. “

“The goal of ISIS is to lock down Pennsylvania Avenue and plant its flag on the White House. Our goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen."

Brown supports keeping open the option of sending troops in to combat ISIS. Shaheen, meanwhile, lamented what she called partisan fear-mongering  on the issue and says airstrikes are one thing, but….

“I don’t believe we should send tens of thousands of troops to be an occupying force in the Middle East.”

The hour-and-a-quarter debate  was sponsored by the Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council.  Shaheen and Brown are slated to debate three more times before election day.