Final Stretch for Republicans Hoping to Win Shaheen's Senate Seat

The Republican hopefuls for unseating Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) met in a debate on Aug. 27, their last before they square off in the Sept. 9 primary to determine who will face the incumbent in the general election.

The debate aired on WGIR-AM and featured former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, former New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Rubens and former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith.

In his opening remarks, Rubens reminded voters that while a state senator he championed the bill allowing all-day voting on town and school district budgets in the state and “led tough fights” to block corporate welfare and open up competition in the electricity market.

“During my campaign…I’ve offered bold, detailed, thoughtful solutions to deal with our nation’s crushing debt, our declining standard of living, our security threats and the corrupt political money system that is the root cause of Washington dysfunction and gridlock,” he said. “What sets me apart, and what voters want, are solutions. My record is full of solutions that bring a difference to people's lives.”

Brown, in his opening statement, said he was “deeply concerned” about America’s foreign, immigration and energy policies under the leadership of President Obama and said the national debt was “incredible.”

“We have so many things happening right now that you almost think that the world is on fire,” he said. “We have a senator, right now, who votes 99 percent of the time with the president in those failed policies.”

Smith, too, said that the nation’s debt and foreign policy are among the key issues dragging down America, adding that the increased spying programs by the National Security Agency and the Veterans Affairs scandal have eroded people's trust in the federal government.

“The question really boils down to ‘who’s tough enough?’” Smith said. “Who’s experienced enough to take on Jeanne Shaheen? It’s not about the three of us – it’s bigger than that. It’s about the country and our country is in trouble.”

The first question posed to the candidates was about climate change. Rubens, a former spokesman and consultant for the Union of Concerned Scientists, reiterated his position that climate change is man-made. He proposes eliminating energy subsidies, saying that the subsidies have “retarded the pace of technology development.”

“[Subsides] have frozen technology one or two generations behind where it should be,” Rubens said. “I believe that we can more rapidly get to our goal [of] abundant, clean and lower priced energy.”

Removing subsidies, he said, is the best way to “unleash the free market” allowing technologies to “fight it out.”

Brown said that the origin of climate change is both a man-made and natural one and that an “all of the above” approach -- including nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and natural gas -- is needed to diminish America’s reliance on foreign oil.

Smith said his opponents’ positions on climate change are “a perfect example” of why neither is the best candidate to face Shaheen in the general election.

“I don’t believe at all that climate change is man-made. There is no evidence to support that,” Smith said. “What we need to do is produce more energy.”

He said that moving away from foreign energy would not only help America become energy independent but would also create much-needed jobs for skilled workers.

The panel was also asked about their opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline; Smith and Brown quickly said they were for it. Rubens said he “was OK with it” but it “was more $100 a barrel oil” and “not the solution to our energy problems.”

Brown was confronted about his role as independent director with the Massachusetts-based papermaker and recycler Kadant, which is accused of moving a large number of jobs overseas.