The dynamic of this high-profile race has changed little since former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown began plotting a return to Washington, from New Hampshire, the state in which he spent his early childhood.
Last night's NECN/Concord Monitor/UNH debate at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord was true to form.
Jeanne Shaheen repeatedly cast Brown as an opportunist:
“You know Senator Brown when he lost his race, he didn’t move to New Hampshire and say I want to get involved in this state. He thought about running for the senate in Massachusetts, then he thought about running for Governor in Massachusetts, then he went out to Iowa and said he was thinking about running for president. Well, I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize.”
Scott Brown, meanwhile, leaned hard on Shaheen’s, record of support for the policies of President Obama.
"Every survey that’s come out has Senator Shaheen as one of the most partisan senators. She has in fact voted with the president over 99 percent of the time. And what does that mean to the people of NH? It means that she was the deciding vote for Obamacare."
When asked to say if she considered Obamacare a proud accomplishment, Shaheen did say yes.
But she was more equivocal when asked yes or no, did she approve of the president’s performance?
“In some things I approve, in some things I don’t approve....Like most questions we deal with as policymakers there aren’t simple answers.”
Brown won cheers for suggesting some things are indeed simple, as when moderator Chuck Todd pressed him to define a secure border.
-What is the metric? Tell the public the metric when you know…
“The border is secure when it’s secure. You know when its secure when people don’t come across it.”
-But people are always going to come across it.
“Listen if you think the border is secure folks, the border is not. It’s absolutely not.”
Shaheen accused Brown of grandstanding and fear mongering for linking border security to fighting ISIS and containing Ebola.
The candidates also clashed over energy issues.
Brown accused Shaheen of supporting a national energy tax. Shaheen said Brown was too beholden to the fossil fuel industry. When the candidates where given the change to asked each other a question. Shaheen went after Brown on outsourcing.
“We actually provide tax credits for companies that ship jobs overseas. When you were in the senate you voted to reward companies who ship job overseas. Here in NH we have the highest percentage of job shipped to China of any state in the country So why in the world would you support outsourcing American jobs overseas?”
Brown denied the claim.
“I have never voted to outsource jobs.”
He then worked to turn the notion of outsourcing back on Shaheen.
“I think outsourcing has a lot of different meanings. When you actually were elected you said you’d be an independent senator, but you outsourced that independence when you voted with president 99 percent of the time.”
Polls indicate this race is tight. But the most recent survey by the University of NH found 16 percent of the electorate remains undecided. Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown have two more televised debates to sway those voters. The next one is tomorrow night.