NASHUA – In an usually stark assessment of a U.S. Senate colleague, Arizona Sen. John McCain on Monday said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has not been “a serious member” of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I don’t see her at very many of the hearings. I’ve not seen her propose any amendments or proposals that have to do with national security,” McCain said after appearing with GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown at the American Legion Post No. 3 in Nashua.
“I did work with her on an issue of getting the interpreters from Iraq back to the United States, but aside from that, I have not seen her really active in the committee,” said McCain, who is also a member of the committee.
With the election only eight days away and control of the Senate on the line, McCain sharpened his rhetoric against Shaheen in comparison to a prior visit.
In August, McCain told the New Hampshire Journal in an interview Shaheen has been “independent in many areas, and in many other areas she has been a strong supporter of the President. Obamacare is probably the best example.”
McCain said in August that during that particular visit, “I’m not going to be there campaigning against Jeanne Shaheen, but I’ll be there trying to help a close associate in Scott Brown,” who at that point still faced primary opposition.
The final week of the campaign kicked into gear with Brown being joined by McCain and Sen. Kelly Ayotte in Nashua, while Shaheen headed north to Berlin and Laconia.
In Berlin, Shaheen told seniors at a community action program meals program that Brown voted against their interests while serving in the Senate from Massachusetts.
“When Scott Brown represented Massachusetts, he voted for devastating cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while supporting special breaks for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that ship jobs overseas,” she said, according to the Berlin Daily Sun. “That’s just wrong and it’s only further proof that he’s not for New Hampshire.”
Shaheen also unveiled a new television ad with her closing argument in the election. In the ad she says, “We’re tough here. I never back down from a fight for the people of New Hampshire. I don’t work for the big oil companies or the big banks, I work for you.”
View the ad below:
She does not mention Brown, but says, “I didn’t just move here. I’ve been here fighting for you.”
But McCain, after the American Legion rally, said he senses that Shaheen is vulnerable because of her “consistently voting with the policies of the President of the United States and voting with him 97, 98 percent when it’s obvious most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.
“The thing I respected about Warren Rudman and Judd Gregg and many others who have served in the Senate from New Hampshire (is) they make up their own minds. They’re independent. They vote what’s best for New Hampshire and they’ll take on their party leadership or anybody else. And that’s what I think Shaheen has not done,” McCain said.
McCain also said Shaheen “voted to destroy, in my view, the advise-and-consent capability of the Republicans when they blew up the Senate with the nuclear option.” He was referring to a rule change enacted last year by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats allowing federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments to advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote super-majority that had long been the standard.
McCain, who won the New Hampshire Republican presidential primaries in 2000 and 2008, took aim at remarks by 2008 Democratic first-in-the-nation primary winner Hillary Clinton for saying in Massachusetts last Friday, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”
After Republicans voiced outrage, Clinton walked back the comments, saying she “short-handed” her point and reportedly clarifying at a New York state campaign event, “Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in America and workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out — not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas.”
But McCain said Clinton “has made a series of mistakes,” first by saying she and her husband were broke when they left the White House.
“That was interesting” said McCain. “You’d think someone who is getting 225 grand per speech is doing fairly well. Her record as Secretary of State is without event. Tell me one thing she’s done as Secretary of State, and she seems to have trouble getting in tune with the majority of the people.”
McCain said the Obama administration has failed in handling the Ebola issue.
“What we need to do is, anyone who wants to come to the United States of America should go into quarantine for 21 days,” he said, “take the blood test and then be allowed to come to the United States. Not wait until they get here, after they may have contaminated innumerable people on the airplane or in places on the way.
“This has been a terrible fumbling by this administration,” he said. “And if the President really wanted a bipartisan approach, he wouldn’t have appointed a political hack who knows nothing about health care” as the Ebola “czar.”
“That’s just terrible leadership,” said McCain.
McCain also said he questions whether military personnel should be sent to Ebola “hot spots.”
Obama, he said, “didn’t ask permission of Congress, didn’t ask the American people. I want to know why they are so badly needed there. I’m not saying they aren’t, but I haven’t seen an argument yet for them being there.”
“They can’t run a two-car funeral,” said McCain.
McCain also said that it is too early to predict who will be leading the Republican presidential field.
“It’s wide open right now,” he said. “It’s very unsettled,” he said, predicting that the GOP presidential race will be “very competitive. There’s no perceived frontrunner right now. That’s good.”
He said the GOP will have a chance at the White House in 2016 if it wins control of the Senate this year and then sets out a “positive agenda and show the American people that Republicans can govern.
“If we don’t do that it doesn’t matter who we nominate in 2016,” he said.
“The President has very low approval ratings,” he said. “You know who else has low approval ratings? Republicans. We’ve got to change that.”
He said the Republicans, if they gain control of the Senate, should approve the Keystone pipeline, rescind sequestration, “which is devastating our military,” “embark on tax reform” and “address the whole issue of Obamacare.”
“I want to give Americans a choice if they desire to be enrolled in Obamacare or some other form of health care,” he said.
McCain himself is up for reelection in 2016.
Asked by Paul Steinhauser of NH1 News if he will run for reelection at age 80, McCain he said he feels well and is “certainly leaning toward running again and feel that I have a lot more to contribute. But first I have to talk to a lot of my friends in Arizona before I make that decision.”