Brown Says Biggest Threat Is 'Radical Islamic Jihadists'; Shaheen Accuses Him of 'Fearmongering'
The Senate candidates in New Hampshire made their final pitch to voters as incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and her Republican challenger Scott Brown participated in the last debate before the general election.
The themes were familiar as Brown portrayed his Democratic opponent as President Obama’s No. 1 foot soldier, a loyal senator who voted with her party, and the president, 99 percent of the time. Shaheen represented Brown as a man intent on putting the interests of Wall Street and oil companies over the interests of the citizens of New Hampshire.
According to Brown, the biggest threat facing the nation is “radical Islamic jihadists,” and while his opponent said he was using these threats to “fearmonger” Brown said the fear regarding terrorists such as ISIS and Boko Haram is “rational.”
“Their No. 1 goal is to disrupt the society as we know it,” said Brown, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee while Massachusetts senator. “Right now there have been hesitations and half-steps as evidenced by [former Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta.”
Brown said that Panetta’s plan to leave troops in the Middle East was struck down by the president and “we are having more and more trouble in that region” as a result.
Shaheen, of course, agreed that ISIS is a threat but she still does not share Brown’s view that terrorists “are going to cause the collapse of this country.” She maintains that building the international coalition, which she says has 60 nations participating, is the best way to combat the militants in the Middle East.
“I think a bigger threat is not having the commitment and the gumption here in this country to address the threat of ISIS and other threats facing this country,” she said. “America is strong, we have the strongest military in the world and we are going to take on this threat.... What we don’t need is our leaders raising concerns about our ability to take this on.”
Shaheen said that she had confidence in the advice of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey that ground troops are not needed to combat ISIS “at this time.”
“If the president wants to send in ground troops I think he needs to come to Congress and I think he needs to ask for an authorization for the use of military force,” she said. “The fact is when American interests are threatened we reserve the right to take any action and I think that’s true in this case.”
Brown said he relies on the advice from the generals on the ground and says the president, with Shaheen’s support, has “already taken the greatest fighting force off the table.”
“ISIS is not taking anything of the table,” he warned. “We are a liberating force; we are not an occupying force. I, and every other person in the military, resent the fact that you are calling us occupiers.”
During this debate, immigration was again a contentious topic, and one that has proven to be a divisive issue throughout the race. Shaheen said that Obama should “not take action on immigration” because Congress has “a bill on the floor” that is a “realistic plan” to address immigration policy. Brown said that the bill “immediately gives the president the ability to give preference for jobs” to immigrants.
“In addition to that the president is also seeking to legalize upward of 11-plus-million people, giving them enhanced benefits,” Brown said. “I disagree with that. I will go to the funding source and make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The candidates were also pressed about their respective relationships with Obama. Shaheen was asked about the last time she disagreed with the president, while Brown was asked about the last time he agreed with him.