MANCHESTER — Republican Senate challenger Scott Brown said today national security “has become a central issue” in the 2014 elections and, in a lengthy speech, charged Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is a follower of an Obama administration foreign policy that lacks “clarity and conviction.”
Shaheen supporters dismissed Brown’s speech as an example of political opportunism.
At the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, Brown said Shaheen’s “record of near-complete conformity with the President covers just about every issue of national security and defense….It’s been nearly six years of confusion, uncertainty and withdrawal in American foreign policy.
“For Senator Shaheen it’s been nearly six years of just going along, with no question for the President about his decisions – at least none that anybody remembers – no expressions of disagreement, not a single sign of independent thinking.”
Brown, who yesterday released a television ad in which he says Shaheen and President Barack Obama “seem confused about the nature” of the Islamic terrorist threat, talked about areas in which he believes Shaheen has not supported efforts to strengthen the U.S. capability to oppose terrorist forces.
The former Massachusetts senator faulted Obama for the radical Islamic terrorist threat because he did not leave a residual force in Iraq – and he faulted Shaheen for supporting the President’s plan for full withdrawal.
“The Iraq veterans I speak with usually tense up, maybe get angry, or maybe shed some tears,” said Brown. “And they want to know how it all fell apart, after all that our military sacrificed for that country in the lives, limbs, and futures given up in that cause.
“American troops served long deployments, suffered wounds, lost comrades. They gave all that their country asked, and more,” he said. “And hard as it was, by 2011, the surge had succeeded and finally the end was in sight. Yet it all slipped away. And now entire towns and regions that good men died to liberate are held and ruled by terrorist fanatics.
Brown said Obama and officials in his administration “seem only more confused as things unravel. It’s as if the Obama administration is maxed out, worn down, devoid of ideas, and now all the bills are coming due. This is what foreign policy looks like without clarity and conviction. This is what the world looks like without American leadership.”
Brown said Shaheen, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has backed Obama 99 percent of the time on foreign policy as well as in other areas.
He said that he, as a member of the Armed Services Committee in October 2011, signed a letter with a bipartisan group of senators “challenging the administration to reconsider the complete abandonment of the Iraqi people. We needed to leave a transition force there to help guide and assist the new elected government.” But Shaheen, he said, did not sign it.
“I’m not sure she realizes even now the disastrous consequences of the complete military withdrawal that she supported,” Brown said. “For most of 2014, the jihadists of ISIS have been storming across two countries, going from one conquest and atrocity to the next. So far as I can tell, she never even mentioned ISIS in public until last month.”
He said that he introduced, and will introduce again if elected, legislation to strip the citizenship from any American who fights alongside ISIS.
Brown said Shaheen “has insisted that the group, Boko Haram, operating in and around Nigeria, is not really an Islamic terrorist group. But let’s not be confused on this: These are the jihadist killers who kidnapped over 200 girls last spring. They’ve been at it awhile, and back in 2012 I introduced a bill instructing then Secretary of State Clinton to designate Boko Haram as the terrorist organization that it is.
“The bill went to Senator Shaheen’s committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, where, once again, they did exactly nothing. Finally, last fall, the state department acknowledged the obvious by declaring that Boko Haram is a terrorist organization. Around that same time, as you might guess, Senator Shaheen also changed her position on the matter.”
Brown said Obama and Shaheen have been weak on border security, proposing “amnesty” while “ISIS thugs have been saying for months they are going to send people her to kill Americans on as big a scale as they can.
“The Obama-Shaheen agenda of amnesty and no border enforcement is only inviting more chaos and danger,” Brown said, promising to vote “to provide every resource we need to guard this nation’s borders and enforce this nation’s laws.”
Brown also promised to “keep my word to veterans,” charging the administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs “has been an outrageous failure” during the Obama administration.
He promised to be independent, saying he will vote with “any President” who is “clear and resolute in defense of America’s interests.”