When your biggest liability is the fact that you’ve been labeled a carpetbagger, it helps to avoid any confusion about the state that you’re running to represent.
But U.S. Senate hopeful Scott Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts who now lives in New Hampshire and is seeking a seat there, appeared to have made one of those errors (again) this week while discussing immigration with Boston Herald radio.
Brown, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, had been critical of President Obama for failing to visit the Texas border during a recent visit to the state in the midst of a surge of Central American children crossing into the United States. In the Boston Herald radio interview, he said Obama and other Democrats had not paid enough attention to securing the border and ensuring that employers have a verification system that affirms the citizenship of new hires.
“Clearly there’s a magnet, there’s an incentive as evidenced by what’s happening now,” Brown said, referring to the flood of young refugees. “And if you take away that incentive by securing the people, making sure they are safe and healthy and then returning them to their country of origin – that will send a very powerful message to people who are trying to get here.”
“That’s the big difference between Sen. Shaheen and me, and many other people in the Massachusetts delegation, and Sen. Shaheen, in particular, the president,” Brown said. “I’m not for amnesty; I never have been. I have not supported the Dream Act. She has.”
The Brown campaign said the former senator did not misspeak and was in fact referring to the views of the Massachusetts delegation on immigration, as well as New Hampshire Sen. Shaheen’s views. Noting that Brown was speaking to two Massachusetts reporters during the interview, the campaign said Brown referred to “your Massachusetts delegation"; the audio was unclear on that point.
The former senator won his Massachusetts seat in a special election in 2010 and was defeated two years later by Democrat Elizabeth Warren. He announced his campaign for the New Hampshire seat last April in Portsmouth, N.H., where he was born, and his ads note that he and his wife have owned a vacation home in Rye on New Hampshire’s seacoast for over 20 years. Brown moved there full time last year. When launching his exploratory committee this year, he told voters that while much of his life “played out in Massachusetts… a big part of it was always right here in New Hampshire.”
But Democrats have been on high alert for any geographical errors by Brown. Last year, the pro-Democratic group American Bridge released a video of Brown speaking to reporters in New Hampshire in which he said he'd been trying to bring awareness to the issues affecting "not only people here in Massachusetts--ah New Hampshire." He quickly corrected the mistake by saying he'd been talking to voters in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island.
Shaheen led Brown 50% to 42% with 6% undecided in an NBC News/Marist poll released this week. About 52% of New Hampshire’s registered voters said they had a favorable impression of Shaheen, compared with 40% for Brown. The poll appears to bode well for Shaheen, who was doing well among Democrats and also among the state’s large swath of independent voters.
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2:55 p.m., July 16, 2014: Updated with comment from Scott Brown's campaign.