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Friday, September 5, 2014

Brown defends record during debate

CONCORD – Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown again defended his record on gun control and health reform Thursday against Republican rivals who said he’s showed more consistency voting with Democrats than he has sticking to his convictions.

Brown, the front-runner heading into Tuesday’s primary in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, said he doesn’t regret any of his votes and said there were several issues on which he agreed with President Barack Obama, including helping small businesses raise capital and banning insider trading in Congress. ...

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CONCORD – Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown again defended his record on gun control and health reform Thursday against Republican rivals who said he’s showed more consistency voting with Democrats than he has sticking to his convictions.

Brown, the front-runner heading into Tuesday’s primary in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, said he doesn’t regret any of his votes and said there were several issues on which he agreed with President Barack Obama, including helping small businesses raise capital and banning insider trading in Congress.

“We need independent leaders willing to act as Americans first and work across aisle to get things done,” he said during a televised debate.

But former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and former state Sen. Jim Rubens argued that Brown is a liberal flip-flopper who should not get a chance to return to the Senate from New Hampshire.

“Mr. Brown, tear up those talking points,” said Smith, riffing on former President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. “You vote with President Obama more than you vote with the Republican Party. You cannot accommodate these people. You’ve got to defeat them.”

On gun control, Brown previously supported extending a ban on assault weapons in Massachusetts but said he will not propose new legislation if he returns to Congress and, should a bill come up, he would listen to all viewpoints. He stopped short of taking a yes or no position, prompting Rubens to say, “That’s not a position,” and “You can’t slither around” the Second Amendment.

“You didn’t get an answer to the question. He goes on and on,” Smith told the debate moderators. “I’m not going to support a ban. I’ll tell you that right up front.”

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Shaheen, who has served in the Senate since 2009.

In Thursday’s debate, Brown also took heat for his support of Massachusetts health reform legislation that served as a model for the president’s health care overhaul law. Brown emphasized that he is the only candidate who has voted to repeal the federal law and insisted that states should decide what makes sense for themselves.

Smith said mandating insurance coverage is wrong at the state or federal level.

“The problem, Scott, is that you voted for Obamacare Jr. in Massachusetts,” he said.

The candidates disagreed on several issues, including how the U.S. should respond to the Islamic State group, which in Syria beheaded journalists James Foley, of Rochester, and Steven Sotloff, who attended a New Hampshire school. Brown was the only candidate open to the idea of sending U.S. ground troops to the region.

Rubens said he opposes not only ground troops but also the airstrikes the U.S. has used.

Smith also opposed sending ground troops: “We cannot win a ground war there,” he said.

The candidates also took different positions on people’s role in climate change. Smith said he does not believe humans have contributed to it, while Brown said the causes include a mix of “natural and human” factors. Rubens said humans are the predominant cause.

“You’ve been all over the map,” he told Brown. “This is emblematic of the way you address issues, and you can’t do that. People want to know where you stand.”