Scott Brown speaks at Franklin Pierce forumBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
September 29. 2014 10:04PM
RINDGE — Franklin Pierce University hosted a First-Time Voters Forum with Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Scott Brown U.S. Monday afternoon.
Last week, Brown had proposed to make the event a debate with incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, but she declined to attend.
Shaheen has agreed to four debates with Brown, according to her campaign office.
Brown took the opportunity Monday to criticize Shaheen’s and President Barack Obama’s record on foreign policy.
National security is a real issue, he said.
“Yesterday the President admitted in an interview that he underestimated ISIS,” Brown said, adding Obama seems worn down and devoid of ideas on foreign policy. “He even went to far as to blame his security team for their lack of information, when in fact he has never and he did not last night accept the responsibility for that lack of knowledge and that’s a problem — because we have seen, almost from day one, a lack of clarity and conviction when it comes to foreign policy. Senator Shaheen as a member of the foreign relations committee has endorsed those failed policies. And that’s a problem. … Our allies don’t trust us and our foes don’t fear or respect us right now.”
Brown also said the U.S. border should be secured and the Affordable Health Care Act is crushing the economy.
When Brown opened the floor up to questions, students wanted to know where he stood on the high cost of higher education, jobs and how he would reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
Brown said college costs are exceeding the rate of inflation. “It’s really not about school loans, it’s about tuition.”
On jobs, he said the tremendous amount of regulation coming out of Washington D.C., and the health care act is hurting job growth.
On foreign oil dependence, Brown said he supports the Keystone XL pipeline.Voters from around the state also attended the forum, many wanting Brown to answer for positions he took as a U.S. senator in Massachusetts.
Janet LaBonte of Canterbury asked if he still believes climate change was not man made. Brown said he never believed that, but believes as he did then that it is a combination of man and nature that is leading to climate change.
He said he supports a balanced approach to climate change that doesn’t hurt the economy.
“It took me $65 to fill up the truck yesterday and $750 to fill up the oil tank last winter and it’s only going to get worse,” Brown said.
FPU 2014 alum, Bianca Acebron Peco of Bow asked Brown why he voted against the Equal Pay Act. Brown said while he supports the original 1963 bill, he and many women Senators voted against the bill. “It wasn’t the right bill,” he said. “Of course I want woman to make the same as men.”
Brown also said his office paid women more than men; where as Shaheen’s office pays men more than women.
After the forum, Peco said, Brown didn’t answer her question about the bill.
Fitzwilliam Selectman and 1999 FPU alum Chris Holman, who has worked as a DJ at many same-sex marriages including Barney Frank’s wedding, asked Brown if he has since changed his position on gay marriage, saying that when Brown was a U.S. senator representing Massachusetts, he supported civil unions, but not gay marriage. He asked specifically if Brown would support marriage rights for gay couples in a states that do not acknowledge gay marriage.
Brown said the economic challenges in regards to jobs, healthcare and college tuition affect both straight and gay couples and that is what he is working to address.
He said in regard to gay marriage that it is a settled issue. “I think everyone’s moved on from it,” he said.
Afterward, Holman said Brown didn’t address his question about supporting gay couples in all states.
Brown encouraged the first time voters in the audience to participate in the November elections, whether they are New Hampshire residents or the residents of another state.
Before serving in the U.S. Senate, Brown served in the Massachusetts Senate from 2004 until 2010. In 2010, Brown won a special election to fill the remainder of the term of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had passed away, with Brown holding that seat until 2013. He has since moved to New Hampshire.
For the four debates that Brown and Shaheen have agreed to, they will be on Oct. 6, Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council Debate; Oct. 21, NECN/Concord Monitor/UNH Debate; Oct. 23, NH1/UNH’s Rudman Center Debate; Oct. 30, WMUR/Union Leader Granite State Debate.