MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Former Sen. Scott Brown pulled no punches in a foreign policy speech here on Wednesday, bashing President Barack Obama and incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)–whom he’s trying to unseat in November–for “pathetic” policies on immigration and national security that put America at risk.
“The Obama-Shaheen agenda of amnesty and no border enforcement is only inviting more chaos and danger. Illegal immigration is above all a national-security challenge,” Brown said. “And should I have the honor of representing New Hampshire in the Senate, I will vote each and every time to provide every resource we need to guard this nation’s borders and enforce this nation’s laws.”
Brown added that America’s “terrorist enemies” plan to prey on Washington’s lack of resolve when it comes to securing the border.
“Think for a moment how it looks to our terrorist enemies that so many in Washington lack even the will to protect America’s sovereignty… to know who’s coming into this country, and to guard against the threat of attack,” Brown said. “It conveys such a passive, pathetic attitude. It sends a message of such weakness at a time when the world needs to see the strength and resolve of the United States.”
Brown also argued that Shaheen’s support for Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq suddenly after the surge destabilized the region, leading to ISIS picking up control over much of it. Brown cited a bipartisan letter he, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John McCain (R-AZ), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), an independent who caucused with Democrats, among others, wrote to Obama asking him to “reconsider the complete abandonment of the Iraqi people.”
“We needed to leave a transition force there to help guide and assist the newly elected government,” Brown said. “It was obvious to us, and to the commanders we had spoken to over there, that a residual force was essential to preserve America’s hard-won gains. Leave all at once, and right away, and that pullout would be seen as a victory by our enemies all across the Middle East. And all kinds of bad actors would move in – exactly as ISIS has now done.”
Brown said that Shaheen–whom he noted was on the Armed Services Committee from which the letter originated–refused to sign the letter because “then as now she wasn’t in the habit of questioning the administration.” Brown went on to say:
I’m not sure she realizes – even now – the disastrous consequences of the complete military withdrawal that she supported. 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. This is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee we’re talking about, and it’s been nothing but silence on the most urgent national-security threats that we are facing. In fact, when the Committee was hearing testimony on the emerging threat of ISIS a year and a half ago, guess what? She missed the meeting. Who knows where she was, but I hope it was important, because that was a critical hearing on a growing danger.
Brown delivered his speech at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute for Politics–a must-stop for all presidential candidates in the nation’s first primary state–with five American flags hanging behind him, and a standing-room-only audience of about 100 people full of supporters, including many military veterans.
Brown’s speech, billed as a national security speech by his campaign, set the tone of the major issues he’s pushing: immigration and terror threats. During it, Brown said that with worried people nationwide and “all over New Hampshire, from moms and grandparents concerned about the safety of their kids,” and the lack of leadership in Washington, “it’s hardly surprising that national security has become a central issue in the election of 2014.
Brown compared his record in the U.S. Senate when he represented Massachusetts to Shaheen’s record, saying Shaheen is a “rubber stamp” for Obama–something he said he won’t be for anyone. He went on:
A record of near-complete conformity with the president covers just about every issue of national security and defense. So if we’ve seen some bad calls at the White House, it’s a very safe bet that our senior senator has been right in line with that failed program. 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 questions for the president about his decisions – at least none that anybody remembers… no expressions of disagreement… not a single sign of independent thinking.
Brown said that he’d support an end to sequester cuts–which have devastated America’s military–as well, noting that America’s enemies are watching President Obama and his allies in Congress like Shaheen weaken America’s military might with such budget cuts.
“And the same is true when so many in Washington can’t even find the will to invest all that is needed in the United States military,” Brown said in the line right after he said terrorists plan to use America’s weak immigration system against this nation.
“Our enemies pay a lot less attention to what we say than to what we do. And nothing communicates our intentions and capacities more clearly than devastating budget decisions concerning defense and national security,” Brown said.
Brown hammered Obama and Shaheen for letting veterans down during the Veterans Administration scandal, also. Brown promised voters in the room and those watching around the state:
I’ll keep my word to veterans, too, as I did before when I was on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Every president bears prime responsibility for the administration of the VA – which in the Obama years has been an outrageous failure. Even as the federal government tries taking over our whole health care system, it can’t even deliver on the most basic promise to take care of veterans. A few months ago the president was saying he was going to get to the bottom of it and fix all the problems. He was saying the same thing as a candidate in 2008. It was talk, and it took a national scandal with our veterans dying at the VA to finally get their attention.
Brown noted that while Shaheen did call for the resignation of now former VA secretary Eric Shinseki, she only did so when it was already going to happen. Brown said:
I lost confidence in the former head of the VA a long time ago, and I was one of the first people in the country to demand that he either resign or be fired. You know when Senator Shaheen got around to calling for his resignation? Just 48 hours before the man actually resigned. She was one of the last senators to call for new leadership at the VA. Everybody knew it was about to happen, so without upsetting anyone in the Obama White House she could safely issue a press release. Our veterans deserve better.
Brown said that America can do better, and argued that begins with New Hampshire electing him over Shaheen–who he said votes with President Obama on every issue, 99 percent of the time. Brown added:
Even in this dangerous time, we Americans do not have to live our lives in fear. And the conduct of national security policy does not have to involve a constant series of crises abroad that we could have avoided… battles refought over ground we have los … and endless worries about what terrorists might have slipped into our country, and what they might have brought with them. That’s what it has come to after nearly six years under this president, and we are asked to believe this is the best America can do.
Brown said he doesn’t “accept that defeatist attitude for one moment,” and that New Hampshire voters shouldn’t either. He concluded:
We live in the greatest country in the world, and this nation can lead again. We can deal with problems before they become crises… deter threats before they are upon us… and shake off the whole cynical attitude that has kept us from doing obvious and necessary things for the defense of America. We can secure our own border, blocking the path of anyone who would do us harm – and we have to do it. We can maintain a military superiority that no rival will dare to question – and it’s critical that we get on it right now. We can restore this great country’s leadership in the world, and everything rides on our success.