TRANSCRIPT: New Hampshire Senatorial Debate
Below is the transcript for the New Hampshire U.S. Senatorial debate between Scott Brown (R) and incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). The debate was moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, with questions from NH1’s Paul Steinhauser.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight: A high-stakes debate in a race that could decide control of the US Senate.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): New Hampshire deserves better than Scott Brown’s fearmongering and grandstanding.
ANNOUNCER: It’s the current senator from New Hampshire versus the former senator from Massachusetts who wants her job.
SCOTT BROWN, NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE CANDIDATE: You see on her sign, she’s putting New Hampshire first. Since when?
ANNOUNCER: Republican Scott Brown is fighting attempts to peg him as a carpetbagger from the state next door.
BROWN: I will answer only to you, the people of New Hampshire.
ANNOUNCER: Democrat Jeanne Shaheen is fighting attempts to level her as a rubber stamp for the president.
SHAHEEN: This race is about who’s going to represent the people of New Hampshire.
ANNOUNCER: Some of the biggest names in politics are taking sides in the state that holds the lead-off presidential primary. Election day is almost here. The Senate race is up for grabs, and it’s New Hampshire’s choice.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: Live from Concord, New Hampshire, this is debate night. We want to welcome our viewers herein New Hampshire and around the country. I’m Wolf Blitzer from CNN, The Situation Room. Tonight, tough questions for the Democratic senator from the state, Jeanne Shaheen, and her Republican challenger, the former senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown.
I’m joined by Paul Steinhauser. He’s the political director and anchor of NH1, our partner in this debate. We’ll share questions from New Hampshire residents. Paul, stand by for that. And all of our viewers can join this debate in real time. Go to bing.com, bing.com/cnn to tell us when you agree or disagree with a candidate’s response.
Let’s get right to the debate. Both candidates will have one minute to respond to questions, 30 seconds for rebuttal. We’ll allow conversation between the candidates. We’ll also press them to actually answer the questions that are asked. Senator Shaheen, Senator Brown, welcome to this debate. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Senator Brown, let me start with you. The news of the day, a possible — possible scare right now in New York City. A doctor just back from West Africa rushed to the hospital in Manhattan. Since returning to the United States, he did not self-quarantine. We know for example he went to a bowling alley in Brooklyn last night. Here’s the question. Should the federal government mandate quarantines for high-risk individuals like this doctor?
BROWN: Well thank you, Wolf. And before I answer that question, I want to thank our sponsors and thank Senator Shaheen for participating. With regard to Ebola, it’s real. It’s a rational fear in dealing with this very deadly disease, and absolutely that doctor should have been quarantined. He should have known better.
That being said, we have a situation right now where the policy with the — the CDC and the president hiring a czar who had no experience in this field is — is an area where we disagree. We need to have a clear and concise policy. We want the president to succeed, but it’s confusing. We need to be reassured right now because there is a rational fear. As I speak to the citizens of New Hampshire, there’s a rational fear that this and other types of diseases will come into our country.
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, Senator Shaheen. Specifically, is there anything that the president is not doing that you would like him to do to better protect Americans from Ebola?
SHAHEEN: Well I understand why people are concerned and afraid, because this is a new disease and we haven’t seen it before. We need to do everything possible to make sure that our people are safe. It sort of reminds me of the post-September 11 period when I was governor and we were dealing with the threat of anthrax and bio terrorism. And I brought together the medical experts and the emergency response folks to make recommendations for how we put plans in place.
And that’s what we need to do now. My opponent and I aren’t infectious disease experts, so we really need to rely on the experts. We need to make sure that we take every measures — every measure that’s going to keep people safe. I think the screenings at the airports are an important step. I think that the effort to self-quarantine is very important, and we need to follow up with folks and make sure that that’s working.
I — I do think we’ve got to take every measure possible to ensure that our people are safe, and we should do that working together. We should not be fearmongering about this issue.
BLITZER: So Senator, do you agree with Senator Brown that the federal government should mandate — mandate quarantines for high-risk individuals just back from West Africa?
SHAHEEN: Well I think we’ve got screenings in place now and we need to check and see how those screenings are going to work. One of the challenges is that people are not getting a lot of accurate information, and we need to make sure that people understand what this disease is, that they know what to look for, and that there are plans in place, protocols.
I met with the emergency response officials here in New Hampshire with public health officials to talk to them about the plans that are in place here in New Hampshire. And I think we are responding positively. We need to make sure at the federal level that not only are we doing those screenings but that we’re also providing the support that local communities and states need because they are the first responders in this effort.
BLITZER: Senator Brown, now let me — let me respond, and I’ll ask a specific question. You can respond to her. You recently said that had Mitt Romney been elected president of the United States, “We would not be worrying about Ebola right now.” So what are you saying here? Are you saying that it’s President Obama’s fault that we’re worrying about Ebola right now?
BROWN: No, of course not, but I’d like to respond. The Senator said we don’t have accurate information. That’s — that’s the issue. The fact that the president has been giving bits and pieces. There’s been misinformation and different types of information from the CDC. We need to do a travel ban. It makes sense to do a travel ban to make sure that anybody who has been in an infected country would come back and — and obviously get screened, as we’re just talking about right now.
And when I was referring to Governor Romney, we were talking about a whole host of things because he was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, and he’s been right on the economy. And had he been president, I feel he would have had a clear and concise plan. He would have reassured the American people that in fact, hey, this is the problem. This is how we’re going to deal with it, and this is what you can do to help.
We don’t need to be experts, folks, to deal with this issue. It’s common sense. And to have the president go and appoint a czar that there’s strictly for political purposes makes absolutely no sense, and that’s part of the problem with this administration. Its confusing and incoherent policies like this that are supported by Senator Shaheen are very problematic.
BLITZER: Senator Shaheen, go ahead.
SHAHEEN: Well again, neither my opponent or I are infectious disease experts. What we’ve heard from the experts is there is concern that a travel ban would make this worse. I’m in the camp of let’s do what’s going to work, what’s — based on what we’re hearing from medical experts and emergency response experts. And so that’s what I support.
BLITZER: So you don’t support a travel ban. Is that what you’re saying?
SHAHEEN: What I’ve said is that a travel ban, if the experts tell us that that’s what we need to do and that’s workable, I think that’s what we should support. But I’m not willing to tell the experts that this is what we have to do.
BROWN: Excuse me, Wolf. I called for a travel ban. Bipartisan members of the congressional delegations in Congress have called for a travel ban. The thing that’s bothersome is it’s very typical that Senator Shaheen waits to get the okay from the president to do many different types of things. I’m encouraged that she finally said that in fact she supports a travel ban and joins with one of our local congresswomen on that very important issue. It’s real. We need to be very safe. And you don’t need to be an expert, once again, to use common sense policies. And right now the president and his team are issuing very confusing policies on this very important issue.
BLITZER: You want to respond to that?
SHAHEEN: Well the CDC and that Dallas hospital did make mistakes. The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes, that we put measures in place to address that. That’s what we’re seeing now. We need protocols across this country. What we don’t need is people fearmongering about this issue. We don’t need people who — who don’t have medical expertise trying to get people concerned about what we’ve got to do to response.
BLITZER: Who’s — Senator Shaheen, who’s fearmongering?
SHAHEEN: I think that’s what my opponent has been doing in talking about people coming across the border who have Ebola who are going to infect people in this country. We had — we had some good news on Ebola this week. We had — we heard that the Americans who had been ill, been being treated for this are now — one nurse is out of the hospital. The other one’s doing much better. The camera man is out of the hospital. So we have been successful in treating the Americans who have been infected and we need to make sure we continue to follow those same kinds of procedures to address the challenge.
BLITZER: Senator Brown, she says you’re fearmongering.
BROWN: Thank you. I’m glad you brought that up. She calls it fearmongering. I call it rational fear, as well as the citizens of New Hampshire and this country have a rational fear that this is real. And don’t take my word for it. General Kelly, who’s in charge of the border in Mexico, has indicated that the clearest pathway to bring anything, whether it’s criminals, terrorists or disease, is through that southern border. So it’s not me talking. It’s also General Kelly and many other people who care and understand this issue. That’s why we need to close the border. It’s so critical. I voted to close the border. Senator Shaheen has voted not to close the border, and that’s a huge difference between us.
BLITZER: Senator Brown, let’s just be precise. Are you saying Ebola is crossing the border?
BROWN: I’ve never said Ebola’s crossing the border, but General Kelly has indicated and stated that the clearest path to get any type of disease, especially if Ebola hits Latin American, people are going to be coming through that southern border like it’s — like it’s a wide-open situation, as it is, and even worse. And he recommends that we close it in the event that that happens.
BLITZER: I just wanted to be precise. I want to move on to a question from Paul Steinhauser. As far as a travel can is concerned, you’re still weighing that. You want to get more expertise advice.
SHAHEEN: No, that’s not what I’ve said. I’ve said if the experts tell us that this is a workable plan, that’s what I would support. And the fact is if you — if you support securing the border with Mexico, then you should support comprehensive immigration reform. That’s what I’ve supported. My opponent doesn’t support that, even though there are very strong measures in that legislation.
It’s been passed by the Senate with bipartisan support from both Senator Ayotte, Senator McCain. That would strengthen our border, a 700 mile fence, double the number of border agents, more money for surveillance and interdiction. That’s what we should be doing and the House should take up that bill.
BLITZER: And I just want to be precise on this one point. When you said, “I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now had been Mitt Romney been president of the United States,” you stand by that.
BROWN: With all respect, what I said is we were talking about many different issues. We were talking about Obamacare. We were talking about him being right on Russia. And I have said and I will say it again, had he been in charge we would have a clear and concise policy as to what we’re going to do, where we’re going, and how we can help. Now with regard to immigration —
BLITZER: Let me interrupt, Senator. But you also said, “We would not be worrying about Ebola right now Romney had been president.”
BROWN: No. That’s taken out of context.
BLITZER: It’s not taken out of context. This was in a Fox News interview last Friday.
BROWN: Once again, it was taken out of context. If you take the whole answer when we talked about obviously him being right on Obamacare, him being right on Russia, and that he — we would not be in this situation with regard to the economy.
BLITZER: Let me read to you exactly what you said. You said Rand was — “Mitt was great. Can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now? He was right on Russia. He was right on Obamacare. He was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and worrying about our foreign policy screw-ups.”
BROWN: Thank you for repeating it for the fourth time.
What we were talking about specifically is that he would have a clear and concise policy on that issue.
And since Senator Shaheen talked about immigration, I think it’s very important to talk about immigration.
I voted to send troops to the border. I voted to close the border. She’s voted in the complete opposite.
She’s referring to a bill that would have been — given the president the ability to actually legalize about 11 million people and give them the ability to work and take away jobs from people in this country.
I’m going to be wa — working for the people of New Hampshire so they can get jobs. It’s a real problem.
The way to stop it, because he’s preparing right now, it appears, to, in fact, legalize additional people who are not entitled to those benefits. We need to deal with the funding issues regarding that.
BLITZER: All right, we’re going to get to immigration in a moment.
Do you want to quickly respond to that before I move on?
SHAHEEN: Well, just that the bill that I’m talking about is one that passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats. It’s not a bill that the — the president supported. We need the House to take this up, because if we’re really going to deal with our broken immigration system we need to address not just border security, we need to address our visa system, we need to address those people who are here illegally.
And despite the suggestion from my opponent, that’s not amnesty. I don’t think Kelly Ayotte and John McCain would have voted for amnesty…
BLITZER: All right. A…
SHAHEEN: — and neither did I.
BLITZER: Paul Steinhauser, you have a question?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Getting back to Ebola, and Senator Shaheen, this is for you. The president plans to send 4,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa. And that includes a general in our own New Hampshire National Guard, to help spread a — to help prevent the spread of the disease.
The question is, are you concerned about sending U.S. troops to the Ebola hot zone?
SHAHEEN: Well, I’m always concerned about our National Guard troops when they’re deployed anywhere. But the challenge that we have is that we need to help contain Ebola. The United States has offered to lead that effort by sending equipment, by sending troops. Most of those troops, with very few exceptions, are not going to be on the front lines working with Ebola patients. They’re going to be helping to train medical personnel in the three affected countries in West Africa. They’re going to be helping to build health centers so — so the — and labs so that they can — they can make sure that they can test people for Ebola.
And what we know is that if we’re really going to contain this disease, we need to make sure that we fight it where it exists. That’s happened in the past when Ebola has occurred in Africa. We’ve been able to support efforts to contain the disease. We need to do that now, because as long as Ebola exists in Africa, there is the threat that it could go anywhere else in the world.
BLITZER: Senator Brown, let’s turn to the other big story of the day yesterday. As you know, and all of our viewers know, there was a terrorist attack in Canada, right across the border from New Hampshire, not very far away from where we are right now.
Here’s the question.
What additional security measures, if any, should be taken along New Hampshire’s northern border with Canada?
BROWN: Well, first of all, my heart and — goes out to those who have lost their life. Obviously, a very serious situation with our — one of our greatest allies in the world, Canada.
That being said, the prime minister said that it’s terrorism and I agree with him based on all the information and the things that we’ve heard.
So the question is, what are we going to do?
Obviously, we need to take any and all precautions, to make sure that we use vigilance and diligence when we’re obviously looking to have enhanced border security. And that’s another reason why we need to get a strong immigration policy. That’s why we need to make sure that we not only deal with our northern border, but our southern borders.
And just to step back for a minute, you asked a previous question about our troops. I recently retired from the military after 35 years, serving the last three at the Pentagon. I take our troops and their missions very seriously.
That question that I have had from the beginning is — is what’s the mission?
Where are the troops going?
The senator said herself that were not Ebola experts. Well, neither are our troops and we’re putting them, potentially, in harm’s way with no mission, no clear mission and no safeguards, that I’m aware of, or that the president has told us to make sure that our troops are safe.
So I’d like to know more about that mission.
BLITZER: All right, well, let me just see — ask — repeat the specific question.
What additional security measures, if any, need to be taken at North — at New Hampshire’s northern border with Canada?
BROWN: Oh, I’m sorry.
Well, thank you. Once again, I said that we need to make sure that we work our — with our Canadian partners and we need to make sure that we have enhanced border security, working, obviously, with the immigration officials.
If there’s a need for troops, that’s certainly up to the governor through, obviously, working with our — our — our federal officials.
And, you know, that’s obviously very important. It’s common sense issues, making sure that we deal with homeland security and making sure that they have a clear line of communication.
As you know, there’s been problems in the past of communicating with federal and state and local officials. And I think a lot of that’s been addressed. But we have to make sure that we work with our Canadian allies and work with the federal law enforcement officials and state and local officials to make sure there’s a clean — clear and concise plan and clear and concise communication.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Shaheen, you serve on Capitol Hill in Washington. You’re a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
You saw what happened on Parliament Hill in Ottawa yesterday.
What should the U.S. be doing to make sure something like that never happens on Capitol Hill in Washington?
SHAHEEN: Well, again, I share the — the concern about our Canadian neighbors and I offer them our condolences.
This shows why it’s very important to support not just our homeland security efforts, but also our law enforcement, our first responders. That’s what I’ve done my entire career. I’ve supported for the — supported the resources in Washington to make sure that they have what they need as they protect us on Capitol Hill.
I actually chaired the subcommittee of Appropriations that has oversight over Capitol employees.
And this is where there’s a difference between me and my opponent, because what Scott Brown did when he was in the Massachusetts legislature was to consistently vote to cut resources for law enforcement and first responders.
And I think we’ve got to make sure they have the resources they need.
I — I would never cut resources for our first responders to provide tax breaks for millionaires. And that’s what my opponent did when he was in Washington.
I’m proud to have been endorsed by the New Hampshire Police Association and the Firefighters here.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Brown?
BROWN: Thank you.
As a former member of the Homeland Security Committee, one of the ranking members and a ranking member on Armed Services and a 35-year member of the Army National Guard serving the last three at the Pentagon, my first priority is the safety and security of this country.
That’s why I have been — and others have spoken about — securing our borders, first and foremost. That’s why we made — need to make sure that we streamline and consolidate every fir — federal program to make sure we can maximize the federal dollars that you’re getting.
The federal government right now is not a good steward of our money. The Obama administration right now has provided some good resources. But there are still holes where we need to work harder.
I look forward to having that opportunity again.
BLITZER: Senator Brown, let me follow-up on this. The whole threat of ISIS and the war that the U.S. now is engaged in against this terrorist group.
If U.S. military commanders — you spent a lot of time in the military — were to recommend that some U.S. ground combat forces have to go into Iraq and Syria, would you support that?
BROWN: I think it’s a — ISIS is a real issue. It’s an irrational fear, not only with our citizens, but everybody throughout our country and world. And you have to look back, what is ISIS?
It’s Al Qaeda of Iraq. And it’s a — it’s getting bigger and badder, the size of New England.
Right now, General Dempsey has said previously, there may be a time where we need to send ground troops.
President Obama and Senator Shaheen have immediately taken that off the table.
My question in the last debate to Senator Shaheen was what if ground — what — what if airstrikes don’t work?
It was not an answer. I’m not sure if there will be an answer tonight.
But to take the greatest fighting force off the table right away is not how you — you — you deal with a battle.
I would rely on those generals on the ground and I would rely on General Dempsey to make sure that we know the full picture. And there should be a mechanism that the president should use Congress to come up with those answers so we can be fully informed and talk to our constituents.
Right now, it’s been a — according to Secretary — former Secretary Panetta, there’s been half-steps and missteps. And as a result, our allies don’t trust us, our foes don’t fear or respect us. It’s an incoherent policy.
And Senator Shaheen, as a member of the foreign policy committee, has endorsed those failed policies 100 percent.
BLITZER: Go ahead and answer the question.
SHAHEEN: Well, General Dempsey just last week said that we don’t need to send troops in. I don’t support sending tens of thousands of troops back into the Middle East as an occupying force.
The threat of ISIS is real, but, again, we should not be fear-mongering about the threat of ISIS.
The fact is, my opponent ran weeks of ads that said radical Islamic terrorists threaten to cause the collapse of America.
Well, that’s just not true. We have the strongest military in the world. And we are not going to let ISIS or any other terrorist group cause the collapse of this country.
BLITZER: So was it a mistake for the president of the United States to take ground troops off the table?
SHAHEEN: Well, again, I think we’re building an international coalition. You know, my opponent says that our allies don’t trust us. But, in fact, we’ve got a coalition that has over 60 partners. We are engaged in airstrikes with not just our European partners, but Arab countries. We’ve already taken out hundreds of ISIS fighters. We’re also going after the — the financing of ISIS. We’re going after their recruitment efforts.
And, again, I don’t think we should be putting tens of thousands of American troops back in as an occupying force.
And we should also not be talking about ISIS in a way that spreads fear and panic among our population. That’s just political grandstanding.
What we need is serious people to talk about this issue in a serious way that is going to address the challenge we’re…
BLITZER: So, well…
SHAHEEN: — (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: — and let me just let her answer the question, was it a mistake for the president of the United States to take the option of inserting U.S. combat ground troops off the table?
SHAHEEN: It’s not a mistake to take it off the table right now. And General Dempsey said, just within the last two weeks, that he doesn’t recommend putting ground troops into the Middle East right now.
And — and I don’t think Amer — the American people want to see tens of thousands of American troops back in the Middle East.
But if — if we are going to authorize the use of military force in the Middle East, we need to have the president come to Congress and make that request. And we need to have that debate. We owe it to the people of this country and we owe it to our fighting force, our military men and women.
BLITZER: All right, go ahead.
BROWN: Well, with respect to the senator, she still hasn’t answered your question. She didn’t answer it last — in the last debate, as well.
And that’s part of the problem. She’s so tied in with President Obama and his failed policies on this issue.
The question was, would you agree with the president to send ground troops or not?
The bottom line is, he’s already taken it off the table. He’s taken the greatest fighting force off the table. And we have an opportunity — there’s no one talking, by the way, about occupying forces. We’re talking about a transitional force, as we’ve done in other countries. We’re not occupiers. We were there to assist the government of — the Iraqi government to make sure that what happened wouldn’t happen.
And it’s a — it’s that type of — of — of lack of leadership…
SHAHEEN: Well, we’re there…
BROWN: — that our allies…
BROWN: — where our allies…
SHAHEEN: — the Iraqi government.
BROWN: — where our allies don’t trust us right now.
SHAHEEN: … and we’re assisting the Kurds.
BROWN: Senator, Senator with respect the Kurds are hanging on for dear life. They’re in trouble, the Iraqi government is in trouble. ISIS is the size of New England right now and you and the President have taken ground troops off the table, which is the worst thing you can do when you have the greatest fighting force in the world. You take them off the table. And that’s part of the problem you’re so — you’re so supportive of this President, you can’t even say if General Dempsey and others say we need ground troops. You won’t even say right now that yes, we have to do it. Their goal is to put a flag in the White House. Our goal is to make sure it doesn’t happen. And right now because of the — and as you know — if you don’t believe me, Secretary Panetta said he advocated for it and the President rejected each and every opportunity to make sure we could have a transition for us — it was a mistake. But not for that effort, we would not be in this position.
SHAHEEN: Well, I’ve called on the President to come to congress to ask for an authorization for the use of military force so we can have this debate. I’ve said if he’s not willing to do that, I’m already working with the Chairman of the Foreign Relations committee to do that. But what’s not responsible is for politicians to repeat ISIS talking points like their planning to plant a flag on the front steps of the White House. What’s important here is that we address this threat. We’re doing that, by building an international coalition by supporting the fighters in Iraq and the Kurdish fighters who have a lot at stake because it’s their country. We should be supporting them, we should be going after the financing but I’m not ready to say we need to send troops in today.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Shaheen, Senator Brown, I want both of you to stand by. We have a lot more coming up, many more questions including President’s Obama’s role in this Senate rate here in New Hampshire. Do both candidates have some explaining to do about voting with President Obama. We’ll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to debate night. We’re in Concord, New Hampshire with the Senate candidates on one of the closest and most important races this mid-term election year. Let’s get right back for the questions.
Senator Brown seems to be a few different wings of the Republican Party, the John McCain Republicans, when it comes to foreign policy very often anxious, willing to go ahead and intervene internationally. On the other the Rand Paul Republicans were much more reluctant to intervene internationally. You’ve campaigned with both of those Senators. Whose foreign policy are you more closely aligned with? John McCain or Rand Paul?
BROWN: I think that both play a valuable role in our party, and I respect both of them greatly, that’s the beauty of being an independent Republican like I am. I was the most bipartisan senator in the United States Senate, unlike Senator Shaheen, who is voting with the President’s policies 99 percent of the time. So, as an independent Republican, I can work within my party and still find common ground, there’s not a one size fits all approach and I will continue to listen, learn, do my own research and make my own decision. That’s what it means to be an independent.
BLITZER: Are you with Rand Paul when he says he would like to eliminate all foreign aid and eventually even US aid to Israel?
BROWN: No, of course not. Israel is our greatest ally. Look what happened this summer with Hamas lobbing rockets and missiles at it. I’ve been there. The stress that they’re under right now is unbearable, but I do think that we have an opportunity and an affirmative obligation to do that review of each and every dollar we give other countries. I believe there is an affirmative obligation to keep our citizens in our embassy safe. The fact that what we had happen in Benghazi under the Obama administration right now was unconscionable. I felt that there is an affirmative obligation with those dollars that we give that government to make sure that those types of things don’t happen.
BLITZER: Senator Shaheen, you’ve voted with President Obama 99 percent of the time according to the non-partisan “Congressional Quarterly.” So here’s a question to you. How is a vote for you not a vote for President Obama and his policies?
SHAHEEN: You know, my opponent talks a lot about that survey that he’s always quoting, in fact he’s built his whole campaign on that. But the fact is, I work and I vote for New Hampshire. That’s what I’ve always done. If you look at that survey and we’ve got it posted on our website so you can take a look at it, I’m proud of my record and take a look at the votes that are in that survey. One of those votes is the defense bill. Well, I’m on the Armed Services Committee. I worked hard on that defense bill. It’s got provisions in it that help our National Guard, that help the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, that help the 157th air refueling wing down at Pease. I voted for that. Not to because the President supported it, but because it’s good for New Hampshire.
Another one of those votes in that survey is the Fair Pay Act. I sponsored the Fair Pay Act. It would provide equal pay, for equal work for women. My opponent voted against that. Not once, but twice. Now, I work for New Hampshire, I put New Hampshire first, that’s what I’ve done my whole life, that’s what I want to continue to do as your Senator.
BLITZER: You want to respond?
BROWN: Yes, yes, well thank you very much. The President’s not up for re-election but his policies are. He said that. And Senator Shaheen is his number one foot soldier. So if you want to make sure that Harry Reid’s not the majority leader, we can take over the Senate and make sure that that doesn’t happen.
That being said, she referenced two particular items that she’s working for New Hampshire. Well, with respect, Senator, you have a zero rating with the National Federation of Independent Businesses. That’s not working for New Hampshire businesses. With regard to the Fair Pay Act that you’ve referenced many times, Senator Ayotte and I both voted against that bill, and with respect once again, I pay women in my office $1.21 for every dollar a man makes, where you pay 95 cents for every dollar a man makes. I not only believe it, I live it.
BLITZER: Go ahead and respond.
SHAHEEN: Well, my opponent’s quoting a right wing survey that doesn’t really even understand what the Equal Pay Act does, but the fact is he talks about the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Well, what my opponent has done in Washington, he comes here to New Hampshire and he says he supports small businesses, but look at his record in Washington. Because what he supported in Washington were the corporate special interests, big oil, giving $19 billion to the big banks and outsourcing American jobs. Well we don’t need to import a candidate who’s going to outsource our jobs.
BROWN: With further respect, I’ve been fighting for small businesses forever. I have an A rating with the National Federation of Independent Business and an A rating with the Chamber of Commerce, those are the two premier groups that rate us. We have ratings. And in addition to her saying that the — you know she doesn’t vote with the present 99 percent of the time. I believe it was yesterday the Congressional Quarterly also came out with a new survey saying that when the President lets us know what he’s feeling, which is rare but he does do it, 118 times he did it this last session. Senator Shaheen was with him 116 of those times. So even though she was being criticized for voting with the present 99 percent of the time, she continued to support him over and over and over again. And it’s like we have two Senators here, President Obama is not only President, he’s actually acting like the Senator of New Hampshire.
BLITZER: OK, I’m going to give you a quick chance to respond, then I want to move on.
SHAHEEN: Well again, there’s a big difference between my opponent and me because I support New Hampshire small businesses, I’ve done that as governor now in the senate. I voted for the Small Business Jobs Act to help our small business, my opponent voted against it. I voted to provide tax cuts for over 30,000 New Hampshire businesses, my opponent voted against it. I voted for the Travel Promotion Act to help our tourism industry so that we could attract visitors from outside the United States. My opponent voted against it. He comes to New Hampshire and he says he’s for small business but look at his record in Washington.
BROWN: With further respect, facts are stubborn things. I have an A rating with not only the NFIB but the Chamber.
SHAHEEN: But it’s a Koch funded organization …
BROWN: The Chamber of Commerce with respect …
SHAHEEN: … Koch brothers funded organization
BROWN: … I was with a business yesterday, it’s been in the family for generations. They’ve been a member of the NFIB for 50 years and they’re just trying to make a living but because of the policies pushed forth by President Obama and you on energy being the deciding vote on Obama care with the business mandate coming in after the election, you have a zero rating, I’m not quite sure how folks get a zero rating and then say they are out fighting for small businesses. It just doesn’t add up.
BLITZER: All right well let’s move on because we have a good question for Senator Brown. Now you’ve criticized Senator Shaheen for voting with President Obama 99 percent of the time but we went back to the Congressional Quarterly Analysis and your last year in the United States Senate as a Republican Senator for Massachusetts, CQ, the Congressional Quarterly says you voted with President Obama 78 percent of the time. How do you explain that?
BROWN: Well, when the President does something right, I’ll support him, when he doesn’t do something right I will make sure I let him know that. That is a huge difference to be an independent senator. I voted with the my party and the other side about 50 percent in my entire career. That being said, as an independent senator, I can do that. So when we work together with the president on an insider trading bill, my bill worked forward, we got it done. I worked with Democrats to bring them over.
And we — we were at the signing ceremony, the Hire a Hero veterans bill, the ability to give veterans jobs and employers the ability to actually get a little bit of a tax credit. The Arlington Cemetery bill. Worked with a Democrat to make sure our heroes were buried properly. One person in one grave, three people in another grave, body parts in a mulch pile. I think Senator Shaheen even voted for that. We were able to get it done.
So there are times certainly. Because if you want gridlock, then send Senator Shaheen down there. If you want someone who’s an independent problem solver, has a history of working with both sides and has also been named, Wolf, as you can also reference, as the most bipartisan senator in the United State Senate, then I’m your guy.
BLITZER: You want to respond.
SHAHEEN: Yes. My opponent again talks a lot about that survey, but what he won’t tell you is why the Koch brothers are spending $2.6 million in New Hampshire to support his campaign. I don’t think it’s because they think he’s going to go down to Washington and support small businesses. I think it’s because they know he’s going to go to Washington, he’s going to continue to support subsidies to the big oil companies. The five biggest oil companies last year made over $90 billion and he wants to give them over $20 billion in subsidies. I don’t think that’s good for New Hampshire.
BROWN: Wolf, once again she’s distorting a bill that not only Senator Ayotte voted against but Democrats voted against. And if you want to talk about money, we’re both raising money the same way. She has her groups. I have our — we have our groups. They’re doing whatever they want. I’m Scott Brown and I approve that message. Those are my messages. I have no control over any other messages.
That’s being said, we have an opportunity because the people of New Hampshire are smarter. They’re very sophisticated being the first in the country presidential. They understand that Senator Shaheen has not held town halls. They understand that when she went to Washington she changed, and she’s not focusing on small business. She has a zero rating. With respect, I have been down there fighting for small businesses. That’s why I have an A rating with the national federation, and also the United States Chamber of Commerce.
BLITZER: Quick response?
SHAHEEN: Well again, the National Federation of Independent Businesses has some members here and I appreciate what those members do, but the fact is like his support in so many other ways in this campaign, they are funded by the Koch brothers. We need somebody in Washington who’s going to really support our small businesses. That’s what I’ve done my whole career. That’s what I’ll continue to do.
BLITZER: Senator Shaheen, former President Bill Clinton came here to campaign with you. Hillary Clinton is coming next weekend to campaign with you. Elizabeth Warren, she’ll also be joining you on the campaign trail. Here’s the question. Why don’t you want President Obama to come to New Hampshire and campaign with you?
SHAHEEN: Well I never said I didn’t want President Obama to come and campaign. The fact is he’s busy in Washington. He’s dealing with the Ebola threat. He’s dealing with the threat from ISIS. I think he’s exactly where he needs to be. But again, the fact is that there are big differences in this race between my opponent and me, and it’s not just about the president. He would like to be running against the president in New Hampshire because he doesn’t want to talk about the issues that are important to New Hampshire.
Who’s going to go to Washington and support our middle-class families here? Who’s going to support for affordable student loans so our young people aren’t facing years of debt because of the student loans they’ve taken out? Who’s going to fight to make sure that we don’t outsource our jobs? Because right now New Hampshire has lost more jobs to China than any other state in the country. That’s what I’ve done my whole career. That’s what I will continue to do. And what my opponent did when he represented Massachusetts in Washington as to support the corporate special interests. He was a rubber stamp for the Wall Street banks. He was a rubber stamp for the big oil companies.
BLITZER: So let me just be precise. The president in recent days has gone out and left Washington He’s campaigned for candidates in Illinois and Maryland. Do you want him to come here in these final days and campaign for you?
SHAHEEN: We have a lot going on. I don’t think it makes sense for the president to come to New Hampshire.
BROWN: Well if I may, the reason that she does not want the president here is because he cannot explain why he pushed on us a healthcare bill that’s destroying businesses right now with the business mandate coming in. He apologize for pushing that. Senator Shaheen has yet to explain why she was the deciding vote and why she has misled our citizens on that very issue.
We all have surrogates coming in, by the way, but the people of New Hampshire, they’re going to make the decision based on town halls, which I’ve held. She hasn’t. And by the way, the president also said that he doesn’t need to be here because all his policies are on the ballot. I agree with him. He also said that, hey, I don’t care if they don’t want me. I don’t care if they hide from me because I know when they get reelected they’ll be there for me. And that’s what Senator Shaheen will do because she’s done it for six years, folks. Sometimes she votes 100 percent with the president. That’s not independent leadership for New Hampshire.
SHAHEEN: Well let me — let me just respond on a couple of points. First of all, on the Affordable Care Act, I believe everybody in New Hampshire should have access to quality, affordable healthcare. That’s what I voted for and that’s what I continue to support. Do we need to make changes to it? Yes. There are fixes that we need to make.
But we have 90,000 people in New Hampshire now who have access to healthcare who didn’t before. People like Steve White, who’s a realtor from Londonderry. He didn’t have health insurance because he has — had a preexisting condition. Finally his daughter got him to enroll in the Affordable Care Act in the exchange. Two months later, he had a quadruple bypass. Without the Affordable Care Act, he would have been in financial ruin. It’s doing great things for so many people in New Hampshire and my opponents wants to repeal it. He doesn’t have a plan to replace it.
BLITZER: You want to repeal it?
BROWN: Of course. I’ve already voted five times to repeal it. She was the deciding vote. When she says she wants to–
SHAHEEN: There were 60 of us. Everybody was a deciding vote.
BROWN: Excuse me. Every Democrat voted, and yes, every Democrat was the deciding vote for a terrible bill that’s crushing businesses. Right now after the election, folks, the business mandate’s coming in. Deductibles have gone up. Costs have gone up. Coverages have gone down. I was just up the street at a pizza place. They can’t afford Obamacare. They can’t afford insurance.
And to think that I don’t want people to have insurance? I have a plan. You repeal it. You put in place something that works for New Hampshire, that respects our rights and freedoms, that is affordable, that has competition. Let’s not forget. When the — when the senator was governor, she forced the insurance companies up to the point where they said they were going to leave. We now have one.
BLITZER: You’re shaking your head.
BROWN: And after the election — but after the election, we’re going to have more.
SHAHEEN: That’s just wrong. What my opponent wants to do is to kick tens of thousands of people off of their healthcare plans without anything to replace it. So he wants to go back to a time when insurance companies could deny people healthcare because they had a preexisting condition, when if you reached your annual limits you could get your healthcare cut off, when if you were 26 you couldn’t stay on your parent’s plan. If you were on Medicare, you didn’t get those copays.
The fact is the cost of healthcare has stabilized. It’s at its lowest rate in 50 years in terms of the increase in cost. And what we’re seeing now is that rates are only going to go up less than 1 percent.
BLITZER: I want to get Paul Steinhauser into this. Paul, you have another question.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you, Wolf. And shifting gears here, Senator Brown, this question is for you. We know that you want to secure our border, but the Department of Homeland Security estimates that there are currently 11 million people in this country living illegally. What do we do with those 11 million people?
BROWN: Whatever we do with the people who are here illegally, I cannot support a bill or any effort to provide them EBT cards, preferential housing and other benefits that they have not earned. A huge difference between Senator Shaheen and me and President Obama is about border security. It’s about immigration. She supports the Dream Act. I don’t. She supports the president’s enhanced use of his executive authority. He’s — right now he’s preparing by all accounts to actually legalize people that are here illegally who are not entitled to the protections and or the rights and privileges that have been earned by our citizens.
And what about the 4.6 million people that are actually following the law? What do you say to them? It’s wrong. We need to make sure that we step in. We have an opportunity, folks. We can actually take over the Senate, go after the funding source to make the president can’t do that. So whatever plan we have, whatever we do, I can’t continue to provide benefits and reward that illegality. Is there a process? Potentially. But until we’re absolutely sure that they can’t get those benefits to continue to reward that illegality, I can’t support it.
BLITZER: Quick response?
SHAHEEN: Well first of all, people who are here illegally don’t get preferential benefits. And the fact is if you want border security, then you should support comprehensive immigration reform. This is a bill that has bipartisan support. It deals not just with border security. It deals with the people who are here illegally, and it deals with our broken visa system.
My opponent when he was in Senate, he was on the Homeland Security Committee. And not only did he vote to slash the Homeland Security budget when he voted for a Republican budget, but he missed all six hearings on border security when he was on that committee. If he’s really serious about immigration reform, then he should support a comprehensive bill, as I do.
BLITZER: I’ll give you a chance to respond.
BROWN: Thanks, Wolf. With respect, I spent 35 years in the National Guard, colonel, served at the Pentagon. I don’t need anyone to tell us that the border is porous and that people are coming over the border. They’re coming over the border. It’s real. There is a rational fear from citizens in New Hampshire and throughout this country that people are coming, either criminal elements, terrorist elements, people with diseases coming through our border. So with respect, I don’t need to attend those hearings and did not need to attend those hearings, and I did not slash the budget for Homeland Security, with all respect.
SHAHEEN: That’s what you voted for.
BROWN: But let’s talk about hearings. When ISIS was percolating, Senator Shaheen as a member of the very important homeland — I’m — excuse me, Foreign Relations Committee, she missed a very important hearing on ISIS. And then she’s been silent up until recently when we had a tragedy on this issue. Once again, falling in lockstep with the president and his failed policies, his incoherent, his half steps and missteps, as Secretary Panetta did.
BLITZER: Go ahead quickly because we have to take a break.
SHAHEEN: My opponent’s just wrong. I attended 16 hearings on ISIS on the Foreign Relations Committee, in the Armed Services Committee. And the fact is I was asking questions about ISIS before my opponent ever moved to New Hampshire.
BLITZER: Senator Shaheen, Senator Brown, both of you stand by. We have more questions. What kind of tradeoffs are these candidates willing to make to push through the polices with New Hampshire jobs on the line? We’ll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
It’s a debate night and we’re here in Concord, New Hampshire with the U.S. Senate candidates.
This is one of the races that could decide control of the United States Senate less than two weeks from now.
Remember, you can go to bing.com/CNN in real time to vote on which candidates’ answers you find the most or the least convincing.
Let’s get back to the debate.
Senator Shaheen, you spent raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that a half a million American jobs would be lost nationally if that happened.
Is the trade-off worth it?
SHAHEEN: Well, there are a number of other analyses that say that we would actually create more jobs if we raise the minimum wage.
The fact is, about two thirds of minimum wage workers are women. I think we need to make sure that they can support their families.
We also know that if we raise the minimum wage, it will lift about a million people out of poverty. And it would help with these other government expenses because they would no longer be dependent on our pro — government programs.
But, again, this is one of the issues that distinguishes me from my opponent, because I have been supporting middle class families here, wanting to — supporting raising the minimum wage. My opponent has said, well, we don’t know exactly where he is, because he’s been on both sides of the issue.
One of the things about that NSIB survey that he keeps talking about is that he got 100 percent rating on it and one of the issues on it was that he didn’t support raising the minimum wage.
So I think it’s now clear that he doesn’t support that.
I think it’s good for our families. We should support that. We should make sure that people can make a living.
BLITZER: All right, well, let’s ask the senator.
Right now, the minimum wage, it’s $7.25 an hour, about $15,000 a year.
Do you support raising the minimum wage?
BROWN: Well, since the senator is confused about my position, let me restate it.
I remember working at minimum wage jobs. My first job was at Dunkin’ Donuts cleaning the grease trap. I still remember what the smell is. My mom had a minimum wage job.
Here — and I’ve supported minimum wage increases before.
But he’s the key. Everybody was at the table.
What’s happening right now is another effort by the Obama administration, as supported by Senator Shaheen, to just dictate to businesses what they’re trying to pay.
They’re not even being asked, hey, can you afford to — to increase wages for folks, because when you look at the high corporate tax rates, you look at medical costs as a result of ObamaCare and her deciding vote to increase those costs, with the high cost of energy, folks who’ve gotten the 50 to 100 percent increase notices already, state profit taxes, all the challenges.
All I have ever said, if we’re going to have that conversation, because I have done it before, is to make sure the people who are actually writing the checks and actually paying people have a seat at the table and they don’t.
And here’s the real key. We need to make sure that whatever we do, whatever we do, it takes into consideration every — every aspect of that important decision.
BLITZER: So I just want to move on.
You support raising the minimum wage?
BROWN: I’ve done it before and I’ve sit — made my position very clear, that in order to have this conversation, it can’t be…
BLITZER: All right…
BROWN: — dictated by the president. It needs to actually make sure that the people writing the check — because they want to pay more…
BLITZER: All right…
BROWN: — than minimum wage. They want to retain these good, hardworking people. They want to keep them there, but with a (INAUDIBLE)…
SHAHEEN: Can — can I respond to that?
BROWN: Excuse me, with the strains and stresses, with all of the — all of the regulations and all of the additional burdens that the president and Senator Shaheen are putting on them. That’s why she has a zero rating business. So just hold onto your pocketbooks and wallets, folks.
BLITZER: All right, very quickly.
SHAHEEN: You know, my opponent, when he’s talking about raising the minimum wage, needs to bring people around the table to see it they can all agree. He didn’t have that concern when he was willing to support over $20 billion in subsidies…
BLITZER: All right…
SHAHEEN: — to the oil companies and $90 billion in subsidies in a giveaway to Wall Street banks.
BLITZER: All right, let’s take a quick break.
We’ll resume this conversation.
Just ahead, it’s more than a state motto, it’s a way of life.
Are these candidates living up to it?
We’ll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to debate night in Concord, New Hampshire.
Paul Steinhauser, you’ve got a good question for the New Hampshire people to absorb.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you, Wolf.
And as — this question is for both of you. And as you both know, our motto up here in the state of New Hampshire is “live free or die.”
How in your life do you live by that motto?
And Senator Brown, let’s start with you.
BROWN: Well, thank you very much.
I live that and believe it because I think we have too much government control in our lives right now. We have a — a situation right now where the president and Senator Shaheen are actually trying to outsource our Second Amendment rights to the United Nations. That’s too much government in our lives.
We have a situation where the government is mandating what we can and can’t do with regard to health care. That’s why I want to bring it back to the states and let us be part of it.
Senator Shaheen is also in favor of common core. Common core is something where our local families and school boards should actually be able to make those decisions themselves. I’m not.
So here’s the problem. In our state, “live free or die” means more to us than other people throughout the country, to make sure we have little or hardly any government intervention. That New Hampshire advantage is being chipped away over and over and over again. Then you throw in the regulations, the costs, the taking of our tax money and not using it properly, we can do better.
BLITZER: Senator Shaheen?
SHAHEEN: Well, I’m very proud to have represented the “live free or die” state as a state senator, as your governor and now in the United States Senate.
And 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 that students can go to college and not be facing decades of debt.
And my opponent went to Washington representing Massachusetts and fought for the corporate special interests.
BLITZER: All right, we’ve got to leave it right there.
But I want to thank both of you for joining us.
BROWN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Paul Steinhauser, thanks to you, as well.
Thanks to our host, NH1, the political director and anchor, Paul Steinhauser.
Please be sure join us for election night on America right here on CNN on November 4th.
For all of us at CNN and NH1, I’m Wolf Blitzer.
Thanks very much for watching.