DERRY — John McCain, who held more than 100 town hall meetings en route to winning two New Hampshire presidential primaries, returned Monday to lend his campaign prowess to Scott Brown’s bid for U.S. Senate.
He briefly waxed nostalgic before delivering a stern assessment of current events. “I have never seen the world in greater turmoil than it is today,” he said.
McCain, R-Ariz., criticized President Obama’s foreign policy, while Brown called U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a “rubber stamp” for that policy.
“ISIS makes al Qaeda look like Boy Scouts,” Brown said of the insurgents known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Brown welcomed the support as he campaigns for the GOP nomination on Sept. 9 and the right to face Shaheen in the general election.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,introduced McCain and Brown at the town hall-style meeting at Pinkerton Academy in Derry. The meeting focused on foreign policy.
Neither McCain nor Ayotte directly criticized Shaheen. Shaheen campaigned Monday with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at an event highlighting women’s issues, including pay equity and health care access.
McCain also cited ISIS threats in Iraq and the importance of expanded U.S. military airstrikes against their insurgent foothold in Iraq.
He said Brown would look out for veterans, including making sure they get the benefits and health care they deserve.
McCain came out in support of Brown back in April, even though Brown faces a primary contest with nine other Republicans, most notably former state Sen. Jim Rubens and former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith.
McCain told the audience in Derry he supported Brown for his integrity.
“I believed in him when he ran for the Senate in Massachusetts,” McCain said. “I believed he served the State of Massachusetts, but more importantly the nation, with distinction in the United States Senate. I am confident he will serve the state of New Hampshire with distinction and honor.”
The New Hampshire Democratic Party produced a web video with McCain’s remarks when he endorsed Brown when he was running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.
“John McCain’s visit does provide a great reminder of whose priorities Brown really shares, and they’re most definitely not New Hampshire’s,” said Julie McClain, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. She called Brown a loyal vote for Wall Street and special interests.
Standing before a large U.S. flag, Brown fielded a mix of questions, starting with John Potucek of Derry asking him about how New Hampshire could finally get a full-service hospital for veterans when the state is home to more than 120,000 veterans.
Don Gauvin, an independent voter from Chester, said he and his wife like how Brown has handled himself so far. Asked in an interview what Brown has to do to win this fall, Gauvin said he believes Brown must overcome his Massachusetts political roots to win over some New Hampshire voters.
Jane Lang, a Democrat from Salem who is supporting Shaheen, asked Brown what he would do to help New Hampshire seniors. She had a brief exchange with him about the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act. Brown wants to repeal “Obamacare,” but Lang believes that is misguided. firstname.lastname@example.org