Dead Heat: Shaheen Says Obama's 'Too Busy' to Campaign in N.H., Brown Says Absence Intended

On the back of a CNN/ORC poll gauging the race, the New Hampshire Senate candidates faced off in a debate for the news giant – their second debate in just three days.

The Oct. 23 poll reinforced that the race between Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Scott Brown is a true toss-up with less than two weeks before the general election. Neither of the candidates broke the 50 percent mark among likely voters, as Shaheen garnered 49 percent of the respondents’ support while Brown had the support of 47 percent of respondents.

Among registered voters Shaheen holds just a 6 percent lead, 50 percent to 44 percent. The poll also continued to show President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are abhorrently low, with 39 percent of likely voters approving of the way Obama is handling his job.

The Real Clear Politics polling average puts Shaheen up at a 2.2 point average, a clear toss-up.

Throughout the campaign Brown has linked his opponent to the president, citing a Congressional Quarterly report that shows the incumbent voted with Obama 99 percent of the time.

However, during the CNN debate, Shaheen used findings from that same report against her Republican opponent, saying that while a Massachusetts senator he voted with Obama 78 percent of the time.

Brown said that he was “the most bipartisan senator in the United States Senate” during his tenure and that he voted for good policies, not only with his party.

“When the president does something right I’ll support him,” Brown said. “When he doesn’t do something right I will make sure to let him know....If you want gridlock then send Sen. Shaheen down there. If you want somebody who is an independent problem solver… then I’m your guy.”

Shaheen was asked by host Wolf Blitzer why the president has not joined her on the campaign trail, being that she has offered him her support, evidenced by her voting record.

“The fact is, he’s busy in Washington,” Shaheen said. “I think he’s exactly where he needs to be.”

Brown said the reality is that Shaheen doesn’t want him to campaign with her because of his unpopularity in New Hampshire.

“The reason that she does not want the president here is because he cannot explain why he pushed on us a healthcare bill that is destroying business right now,” he said. “He apologized for pushing that. Sen. Shaheen has yet to explain why she was the deciding vote.”

Though the candidates were asked the usual questions about the hot-button issues, namely ISIS, Ebola, immigration and border security, they were also peppered with questions on some new issues, such as minimum wage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a minimum wage hike to the suggested $10.10 per hour would leads to the loss of 500,000 jobs across the country.