Oct 24, 2014 12:03 AM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
CONCORD - Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her Republican challenger Scott Brown sparred over the Ebola threat Thursday, as news was breaking that a doctor who recently returned to New York City from West Africa had tested positive for the Ebola virus.
Concerns over the deadly disease dominated the opening minutes of an NH1/CNN debate that also included the two candidates arguing over combating ISIS, national security, illegal immigration, health care, and even the Granite State's motto.
Asked about the doctor, who had come back from treating Ebola patients in Guinea about ten days ago and developed a fever, nausea, pain and fatigue Wednesday night, Brown said "absolutely, that doctor should have been quarantined, he should have known better."
Brown, who's been very critical of the Obama administration's response efforts to the Ebola threat and using that criticism to attack Shaheen, added that "we have a situation with the policy of the CDC and the President hiring a czar with no experience in this field, is an area where we disagree. We need to have a clear and concise policy."
Brown has also been calling for a ban on travel to the U.S. from Ebola stricken countries in West Africa. Shaheen said she would support such a ban if medical experts "tell us that's what's needed."
"We really need to rely on the experts. We need to make sure we take every measure that will keep people safe. I see the screenings at the airports as an important step. I think the effort to self-quarantine is important and we need to follow up with folks to make sure that is working. I do think we need to take every measure possible to ensure that our people are safe, and we should do that, working together to do that," she added."
As she has in recent days, Shaheen went on to criticize Brown on the issue, saying " we should not be fear mongering about this issue."
Brown responded, saying, "we want the President to succeed, but it's confusing. We need to reassured right now. There is a rational fear. I speak to the citizens of New Hampshire, there is a rational fear that this and other diseases will come into our country."
The two candidates also disagreed over the President's decision to send some 1,400 U.S. troops to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola virus.
"If we're really going to contain this disease, we have to fight it where it exists," Shaheen said, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But Brown, who earlier this year retired after serving three decades in the Army National Guard, questioned the mission, saying "where are they going? What are they going to be doing?"
"My opponent says we are not Ebola experts. Well, neither are our troops" he added.
Brown has repeatedly attacked Shaheen over her voting record, continuously reminding Granite Staters the senator has "voted with Obama 99 percent of the time."
It's part of his strategy to tie the senator to Obama, who's not very popular in New Hampshire.
Asked about her record at the debate, Shaheen said she was proud of her votes, adding "I voted the way I did to support the people of New Hampshire.
Brown was then asked why during his last year as a senator from Massachusetts, in 2012, he voted with Obama 78% of the time.
"When the President does something right, I'll support him, Brown responded as he continued to tout himself as an "independent senator."
Shaheen, asked whether she wants Obama to come up and campaign with her, responded that "we have a lot going on. I don't think it makes sense for him to come up here."
Shaheen also continued to try and lump Brown with the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who have spent millions of their own money to back conservative causes and candidates. Shaheen charged that much of the outside attack ads that slam her "are being funded by the Koch brothers."
On healthcare, Brown, who opposes the Affordable Care Act, said that Shaheen was "the deciding vote" in support of Obamacare.
Shaheen responded that "there were 60 of us" who voted in favor of the measure, adding that "every one of them was a deciding vote."
The two candidates also argued over ISIS, immigration and border security, and raising the minimum wage.
The two didn't even see eye to eye on the state's "live free or die" motto.
"I think there is too much government control in our lives right now. We have a situation right now where the President and Sen. Shaheen are trying to outsource our second amendment rights to the United Nations," Brown charged.
Shaheen responded that "there is a fundamental difference between me and my opponent in this race, because I have been fighting for our small businesses, for our middle class families, to make sure our students won't be facing decades of debt and our opponent went to Washington representing Massachusetts and fought for the cooperate special interest."
Brown, a state lawmaker in Massachusetts, then served three years in the U.S. Senate before being defeated in 2012. He moved late last year to New Hampshire, where he spent part of his childhood and has long owned a vacation home. In April, he launched a GOP challenge against Shaheen, a former three-term Granite State governor who was elected to the Senate in 2008.
With a trio of polls out this week indicating the race between Shaheen and Brown is all tied up, Tuesday's NECN debate, Thursday's NH1/CNN debate and next week's WMUR/Union Leader showdown have become even more outsized in their importance.
And the eyes of the nation are on these debates, as the Shaheen-Brown showdown is one of a dozen Senate contests nationwide that could determine whether the Democrats retain control of the chamber following the Midterm elections. Democrats currently control the Senate 55-45 (43 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs next month. And half of the seats they are defending are in red or purple states like New Hampshire.
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