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Trailing in the polls just two weeks before Election Day, Republican Scott Brown attempted to paint Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen as a loyal supporter of President Barack Obama while Shaheen displayed her bipartisan credentials during a debate Tuesday.
Throughout the debate moderated by NBC’s Chuck Todd, Brown repeatedly reminded voters of Shaheen's voting record in support of the president. He even worked it into an answer to a question about outsourcing American jobs.
“When you actually were elected, you said you would be an independent senator and you outsourced that independence by voting with the president over 99 percent of the time," Brown said.
Shaheen used the hour-long debate to mention a number of Republicans she has worked with and past examples of bipartisanship. She also did not miss a chance to swipe at Brown for one of the biggest criticisms he has struggled to overcome throughout his campaign -- that he is a political opportunist who moved to the state that had the best shot for him to get back to the Senate.
“Sen. Brown when he lost his race, he didn’t move to New Hampshire and say, 'I want to get involved in this state.' He thought about running for the Senate again in Massachusetts, then he thought about running for governor in Massachusetts, then he went out to Iowa and said he was thinking about running for president,” Shaheen said. “Well I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize.”
“I live here, I live here,” Brown repeated in his defense, citing his family ties.
The race has tightened down the final stretch, with the most recent Suffolk poll showing Shaheen leading Brown by just three points, 49%-46%.
Brown’s entrance into the race put the Granite State into play for Republicans hoping to net six seats and take control of the Senate. Shaheen has remained popular despite the president’s sinking poll numbers, though she has been forced to navigate the tricky task of distancing herself from the leader of the party.
On Tuesday she said she was “absolutely” proud of her vote for the Affordable Care Act, but hedged when asked if she thought the president was doing a good job. She told Todd that Obama has been effective in some areas while ineffective in others.
Brown has been quick to go on the attack as the campaign comes to a close, though some of his comments have raised eyebrows -- like when he said there would not be an Ebola outbreak had Mitt Romney been elected president. During the debate he said the president has not acted quickly enough to thwart the disease.
He also has linked Shaheen to the rise of ISIS, saying the senator has supported a White House foreign policy that allowed the terror group to prosper.
Shaheen repeatedly accused Brown of “fear mongering” and scarring Americans to score political points.
A Brown victory on Nov. 4 would be a telling indicator of good things to come GOP prospects of winning the Senate.