Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is now seeking the Senate seat from the neighboring state of New Hampshire. Thursday night, he squared off with two other Republicans in a debate hosted by WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader. Brown, former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and State Sen. Jim Rubens are vying for the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the fall.
Brown painted himself as an independent who bucks his party on occasion and crosses the aisle to get results while his rivals questioned his conservative credentials and his voting record.
"You voted with Obama more than your own party," Smith said. Rubens piled onto Brown saying that he voted with Obama 78% of the time.
Smith, a known-quantity in New Hampshire politics for decades, touted himself as a Reagan conservative and hammered Brown for being too wishy-washy. He erupted after Brown's answer on gun-rights.
"There he goes again" Smith said. "He's not pro-gun. It's very frustrating - just answer the question...This is exactly what we don't need in politics."
But Brown, who said he and his wife have settled into New Hampshire, used the debate to test drive his general election message against, Shaheen tying her every chance he could to President Obama.
"I feel like the country is on fire right now and we're being represented by someone who has voted with President Obama 99% percent of the time," Brown said.
Brown opposes last year's bipartisan immigration reform bill, even though New Hampshire's Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has endorsed Brown's candidacy, supported it. Brown said Shaheen voted for the Dream Act and President Obama's failed immigration policies.
"We need to have compassion for the children who come here, but we need to send them home," Brown said referring to the border crisis.
Smith took a harsher approach saying "we need to round them all up and send them home."
New Hampshire holds its primary election Tuesday, September 9. In the latest WMUR/Granite State Poll, Brown narrowed a previous 12-point gap to just two points between him and Senator Shaheen.
WMUR/Granite State Poll conducted August 7-17, 2014. MOE 4%