Shaheen Retreats, Removes 'War On Women' Ad Against Scott Brown From Airwaves


Matthew Boyle

October 15, 2014


Incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) withdrew from television false ads attacking former Sen. Scott Brown in the vein of the infamous 2012 "war on women" theme. 


"Shaheen unveiled a commercial Monday that said Republican Scott Brown wants to take away insurance coverage for birth control and force women to look at color photographs of fetuses before they can get abortions," Politico's James Hohmann wrote on Wednesday, adding though that just a couple days later now Shaheen has abandoned the strategy.


"Her campaign has decided to sub that out on Thursday for a new spot that's called 'For You,' shared first with POLITICO, that shows the senator talking straight to camera," Hohmann wrote. "It will be the only Shaheen ad running on WMUR-TV and New Hampshire cable as of Thursday, according to a source tracking the air war."


The ad that Shaheen pulled included a false statement that Brown, as a Massachusetts state senator, backed legislation that would "force" women to look at photographs of fetuses before getting abortions.


"On issues important to women, what's Scott Brown's record?" a narrator said in that Shaheen campaign ad. "In Massachusetts, Scott Brown pushed for a law to force women considering abortion-force them-to look at color photographs of developing fetuses. Scott Brown wants the government to tell women how to make this decision. Anti-choice groups in Massachusetts endorsed Scott Brown and women there voted him out. Scott Brown: not for New Hampshire."


Local New Hampshire news outlet WMUR, which obtained a copy of the legislation, found that the bill did not contain language that would "force" women to do things Shaheen said it would.


"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 text of the bill, as reported by WMUR, reads.

WMUR noted that Brown's campaign "points out that nowhere in the legislation is there any language requiring women to actually view those pictures."


At the same, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) launched a bizarre attack on Brown, twisting his words to say he was "sexually active at 18."


Brown hammered Shaheen and the Democrats at a press conference last week right before an event focused on foreign policy-an issue, alongside immigration, that Brown has campaigned on to enormous success-for hurting women with her false attack ads.


"For Sen. Shaheen and her allies to suggest otherwise in the way that she has is just shameful," Brown said about his support for women. "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. 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. 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."


Brown said then she should pull the ad, which she wouldn't-until now, when she's seen a negative hit in the polls.


"And I'm focusing on the issues that people are talking about and you're writing and reporting about," Brown said then.


"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."


New Hampshire GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn said that Shaheen pulling the ad is akin to "waving the white flag" of surrender-an admission she was being dishonest, and paid the political price for it.


"Jeanne Shaheen's smear campaign has backfired and her desperate attempt to deceive voters is an embarrassing failure," Horn said in a statement. "Granite Staters are smart enough to see though Jeanne Shaheen's negative and dishonest political tactics and realize that she is desperate because she knows that she is losing."


The pulling of the ad now is a remarkable and sudden shift by a struggling Shaheen campaign that comes after polling data shows she actually fell behind Brown for the first time in the race overall, and slipped with women, since she went on the offensive.


The new poll, from New England College, of 1,081 likely New Hampshire voters conducted on Oct. 9 found Brown is leading Shaheen 48 percent to 46.9 percent. The 1.1 percent lead is within the 2.98 percent margin of error, but it's the first time in 2014 Brown has been shown to be leading Shaheen in any poll. This new poll shows Brown has actually picked up a point and a half with women voters since the previous New England College poll on Oct. 3. The previous poll showed Brown getting 41.9 percent of female voters-while the new poll shows Brown getting 43.1 percent among female voters.


A Brown campaign adviser told Politico that support Brown picked up among female voters is a direct result of Shaheen's failed "war on women" attack.


"It's clear that Jeanne Shaheen's smear campaign isn't working, and she continues to lose ground and fall behind," the Brown adviser said. "She can't escape the fact she voted with the president 99 percent of the time."


Shaheen's campaign fired back through spokesman Shripal Shah to say, "That's nonsense," and Democrats provided

Politico's Hohmann with internal polling-which is always favorable to the candidate for whom it is done-to argue Shaheen is up six points.


"The most recent internal poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released earlier Wednesday, shows Shaheen up 6 points, 50 percent to 44 percent," Hohmann wrote.


This all comes as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigned for Brown on Wednesday-he's already made other trips to the Granite State for Brown this year-to ride the Brown momentum wave and help him further it.


"Scott Brown knows what it takes to keep the economy growing, while Jeanne Shaheen has voted to open the door for a national energy tax and supports President Obama 99 percent of the time," Romney said at the energy policy focused event for Brown. "We need an independent senator who will fight for New Hampshire and that person is Scott Brown."