It’s come to this: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is attacking former Sen. Scott Brown for what his campaign says was an innocent reference to when he became eligible to vote, the latest chapter in the “war on women” meme that seems particularly desperate, even for Democrats.
It all started during a debate on Monday, when Brown, who’s locked in a tight race with incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), said he’s supported women getting birth control since he was 18 years old.
“To think that I don’t support women’s rights and ability to get contraception is just a false premise. I have since I was 18 years old,” Brown said during the debate.
Following the debate, Brown’s campaign told Bloomberg Politics he was “referring to the age U.S. citizens can vote and engage in civic action.” But Democrats, led by senior aides at the DSCC, offered a more sinister interpretation.
DSCC communications director Justin Barasky alleged Brown was talking about his own period of being “sexually active.”
“What kind of grownup makes clear that everyone knows he was sexually active at 18 when talking about birth control? Scott Brown does,” Barasky tweeted on Monday.
“Scott Brown’s become the creepy guy who can’t stop talking abt what he did in HS. What’s wrong with him?” Barasky added.
Leftwing group EMILY’s List’s Jess McIntosh also tweeted about it: “Here’s a Scott Brown Hero Award I’ve cared about your reproductive choices since I was legally of age to be involved in them!”
Liberal media outlets that covered Brown’s remarks in the debate–like TPM and the Huffington Post–did not mention the DSCC’s Barasky’s or EMILY’s List’s McIntosh’s comments about Brown in their pieces.
Regarding the attacks on his positions on abortion and contraception generally, Brown’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton told the Huffington Post that Brown “is pro-choice and supports women’s health services. Jeanne Shaheen and her allies should be ashamed of themselves for scaring women and misrepresenting his record.”
For years, even when he represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, Brown has touted his pro-choice beliefs–something that media in Massachusetts covered curiously. The New Hampshire Democratic Party challenges Brown’s assertion, saying that when he served in the Massachusetts legislature he twice cosponsored a bill, in 2003 and 2005, that the Huffington Post’s Laura Bassett described as one that “would have required women to wait 24 hours and review state-provided materials about abortion before being able to legally have the procedure.”
At a press conference before Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) endorsed him at a foreign policy themed event in New Hampshire, Brown called on Shaheen to remove from the airwaves a new attack ad that frames Brown as being opposed to women’s healthcare.
In a statement, Brown called the ad “despicable” tactics on Shaheen’s part. “Her lies and scare tactics are, quite frankly, disappointing,” he said, demanding she remove the ad–which he says is false–from the air.
“Let me be crystal clear: the choice to have an abortion comes down to a decision that is best made between a woman and her doctor. As you know, I live in a house full of women, and have been advocating and fighting for women’s safety my entire life,” Brown said. “For Sen. Shaheen and her allies to suggest otherwise in the way that she has is just shameful. It reminds me of what Martha Coakley tried to do when she said I would not allow women who are raped to be able to have the care and services they needed. Just as shameful.”
The bill that Shaheen’s ad was referring to does not use the word “force,” and what local reporters described as a “visibly upset” Brown said, as such, Shaheen “lied” and must remove the ad.
“She lied,” Brown said at the press conference, according to WMUR in New Hampshire. “In the ad, she said it forced women to do certain things. Nowhere in the bill does it say women were forced to do anything. It required doctors to provide alternatives to abortion, to provide additional information, and that woman could have taken that and put it right in the barrel if she wanted to. It wasn’t forced.”
WMUR obtained the bill text copy and showed that it does not use the word “force.”
“The referring physician, the physician performing the abortion, or either the physician’s agent must provide… color photographs or… realistic drawings of the developing unborn child,” the bill text reads, according to the local media outlet.
Brown’s statement attacked the National Democrats for their “scare tactics” in New Hampshire and nationally too.
“Sadly, the National Democratic Party is resorting to these scare tactics not only here, but across the country because that’s all they have left,” Brown said. “Now you all know, we’re helping obviously fund the stations, but there’s been a lot of negative ads, but this one absolutely crosses the line, and it’s from her. She’s standing behind this ad, just as I stand behind my ads. And I’m focusing on the issues that people are talking about and you’re writing and reporting about. Because we are, right now, talking about a sensitive and tender topic. Shame on Senator Shaheen, for playing politics with women. I will continue to talk about the issues that affect all voters, both men and women that have to do with our national security, our economic security.”