New Hampshire's U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen debated her Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, for the first time Monday afternoon in North Conway.
The debate, sponsored by the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, covered everything from health care to house pets. While the tone of the first debate was cordial, Brown was on the offensive right from the start.
"You will have a clear choice, someone who is rubber stamping for the president's policies or someone who will be independent on the issues," Brown said.
He referred to their voting records in the Senate four times during the 75 minute debate.
"She votes with [Obama] 99 percent of the time, said Brown. "I was 50- 50."
A less feisty buy self-assured Senator Shaheen said it was Brown who played partisan politics.
"This is where we have different views," said the incumbent. "What's needed now is people who can work together."
When they clashed on immigration reform, Senator Shaheen portrayed Brown as an obstructionist.
"What Scott should be doing is talking to other Republican leadership to support legislation," Shaheen said.
On the ISIS threat, Brown, who is a veteran, said the current administration is falling short.
"Listen folks, the world's on fire," he said. "We need to restore American leadership. Right now there is none."
Brown said he would support troops on the ground if air strikes failed, but Shaheen disagreed.
"I don't believe we should send thousands of American ground troops to support the Middle East," she said.
Speaking to an audience made up mostly of business people, Shaheen said she would continue to protect their best interests in Washington.
"When Scott was was a senator in Massachusetts, he supported corporations. He was not there for us in small business," Shaheen said.
Brown countered that he could move the agenda forward on Capitol Hill.
"The gridlock is crushing us. I want to be part of the solution not part of the problem," he said.
The moderator punctuated the debate with a few soft balls questions. The audience learned that neither candidate takes naps and both love dogs. Senator Shaheen said her favorite film was Casablanca. Brown said he loved The Patriot and Braveheart. The candidates will meet up again in three televised debates later this month.