Republican Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator now running in New Hampshire, appeared to have a bit trouble with geography in his final debate with Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Thursday.
The candidates, both of whom live in eastern New Hampshire, were asked during the WMUR-TV/New Hampshire Union Leader debate to describe what is going right and wrong in Sullivan County on the state’s western border, and what they’d do to improve the economy there.
Brown, who moved to New Hampshire in December, began by noting that economic opportunities vary by location; communities along the southern border with Massachusetts have more jobs and better infrastructure.
“One of the biggest opportunities is tourism, our ski areas and trails for snowmobiles, I support those efforts,” he said.
While there is one major ski area in Sullivan County, the vast majority of the state’s ski industry is located significantly further north. When the debate moderator said it sounded like Brown was talking about the North Country and again asked him to address Sullivan County, Brown said businesses in every county face the same challenges: rising electric rates, high corporate tax rates and the uncertainty created by the health care overhaul law. His campaign later said when he was talking about ski areas he was referring to Mount Sunapee in Sullivan County.
Shaheen described tax credits she backed that have helped attract new companies to the city of Claremont and her efforts to help a community college in the county pair with local manufacturers to train workers for advanced manufacturing degrees.
Shaheen, who is seeking a second term, has lived in New Hampshire for 40 years and previously served as a state senator and governor. Brown, who was born in the state and lived in it as a toddler, moved back in December after losing the seat he won in the 2010 election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. While Shaheen has emphasized her longtime public service career in the state, Brown said he wants to focus on the future, not the past.
“We both care about New Hampshire. The question is, what are we going to do for New Hampshire,” he said.
Shaheen had a different take when asked whether it was wrong for Hillary Rodham Clinton to have run for the U.S. Senate in New York. Clinton is attending a rally with Shaheen on Sunday.
Shaheen said it wasn’t wrong for either Clinton or Brown to run for office in a new state.
“The question is not where he’s from. The question is what he’s for,” said Shaheen, who argues Brown favored corporate interests over small businesses during his time in Washington and can’t be trusted by women on equal pay, access to contraception and reproductive rights. Brown countered that Shaheen is a rubber stamp for the Obama administration, particularly on the health care law and what Brown calls Obama’s confused foreign policy.
He also said during the debate that she has “waffled” on the response to the Ebola epidemic because she switched from opposing a travel ban to and from the affected West African countries and now says she’d consider it if health experts deemed it effective. Brown favors a ban and said health workers who have been exposed to the virus like the nurse who recently returned to Maine should face a mandatory quarantine.
“We need to put public safety above personal inconvenience,” he said.
Shaheen said voluntary quarantines make more sense, but that states have the power to enforce them if necessary. She accused Brown of fear mongering for his attempt to link the Ebola virus and the Islamic State group to the need for greater U.S. border security.
“A leader should be serious and should alert people to what’s going on, but not try to grandstand on the issues,” she said.
Recent polls have shown a tight contest in what is one of a handful of races expected to determine control of the U.S. Senate. A WMUR-TV Granite State Poll released Thursday showed Shaheen slightly ahead.

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