CONCORD, N.H. — Standing in front of big tubs of (melting) ice cream Monday, Scott Brown had a message for about a dozen seniors at a nursing home here: “The world is on fire right now.”
He argued that Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic US senator he is trying to unseat, is not properly engaged on one of the major foreign policy issues of our time: the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
That’s essentially the message of a new 30-second advertisement Brown is launching on television Wednesday that ratchets up what has been a foreign-policy-heavy focus of his campaign.
The spot portrays President Obama and Shaheen as perplexed by global difficulties and Brown as a steady hand who would work to “restore America’s leadership in the world.”
The ad is set to begin airing the same day the former Massachusetts senator is slated to deliver a speech on foreign policy titled “Protecting America’s Freedom.”
A major theme of Brown’s New Hampshire bid has been to portray Shaheen as a lockstep vote for President Obama and tie her to what he paints as the administration’s lackluster leadership responding to all the blossoming crises around the world.
Speaking directly to the camera in measured tones, the Republican tells viewers in his new ad that anyone who turns on the TV knows that we face challenges to our way of life. He refers to Islamic terrorists who threaten “the collapse of our country,” as video footage of a bearded man holding what appears to be a black ISIS flag appears on screen.
“President Obama and Senator Shaheen seem confused about the nature of the threat, not me,” Brown says, as music swells.
His campaign points to what it says are instances of Shaheen ruling out the use of ground troops against ISIS, despite the fact that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has said he may recommend just that to the president if the current strategy fails.
A campaign aide said Brown is leaving all options on the table regarding the fight against ISIS, and is open to seeing how the threat evolves and what military leaders recommend in the future.
“I want to secure the border,” Brown continues in the new spot, as an image of him in military fatigues appears on screen, “keep out the people who would do us harm and restore America’s leadership in the world.”
The threat of ISIS has particular resonance in New Hampshire: Two of the people beheaded by the militant group, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, had Granite State ties.
A Shaheen spokesman responded to a description of the ad in a statement decrying the spot.
“While Scott Brown is peddling the politics of fear,” said Harrell Kirstein, “Senator Shaheen is working to defeat and destroy ISIS, supporting air strikes, voting for military action, and working to crack down on the terrorists’ financing to disrupt their operations.”
Brown and Shaheen will face off on Nov. 4. The New Hampshire US Senate contest is seen as one of a handful that will determine whether Republicans pick up the net of six seats the party needs to take back the chamber.