The final debate between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Republican rival Scott Brown got awkward Thursday when a reporter challenged Brown’s understanding of New Hampshire geography.
Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who moved to New Hampshire in December, gave a broad answer when WMUR’s James Pindell asked him for specifics about the economy in Sullivan County, which is located in the western part of the state.
“Geography plays a role. Along the southern border we have more jobs, more opportunity,” Brown said. “Infrastructure and other opportunities up north are difficult. One of the biggest opportunities is tourism, one of the biggest opportunities is our ski areas and trails for snowmobiles. I support those efforts.”
He went on to say that Obamacare was the “biggest wet blanket” on the economy in that area.
“We’re talking about Sullivan County and I think you’re talking about the North Country,” Pindell interrupted. “So what do you see as going well in Sullivan County or not?”
“I’m talking about any place past Concord, actually, and the challenges of our state,” Brown said.
Pindell then cut in again to point out that Sullivan County is west of Concord, not north of Concord.
“With respect, I’ve answered the question,” Brown responded. “The challenges are the same in every county in our state.”
But technically, Sullivan County is both north and west of Concord. Pindell apologized for the awkward exchange after the debate broadcast.
“I said that Sullivan County was west of Concord, not north of Concord. The truth is, it’s both,” he said, as quoted by the New Hampshire Union-Leader. “So on this point, Scott Brown was right, I was wrong, and I apologize to Scott Brown, and to both campaigns.”
Update: The headline has been changed to better reflect the nuance of the exchange.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.