Republican Massachusetts Senate candidate Scott Brown sharply distinguished himself from his Democratic opponent this morning, when he endorsed the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique against suspected terrorists.
(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
In a broadcast debate with his political adversaries, Brown, a state senator, said he disagrees with Republican Sen. John McCain's opposition to the simulated drowning technique, the Associated Press reports.
"I believe that it's not torture," he said. "America does not torture. We used aggressive enhanced interrogation techniques."
He added, "The bottom line is I will use any means possible, and encourage the president, and support him, in any means necessary, to gather any information to keep our country safe."
Brown faced off Tuesday morning against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the first of three debates before a Jan. 19 special election to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. A third candidate, libertarian-leaning Joe Kennedy (of no relation to the late senator), was also in attendance but reportedly largely silent.
Brown gave a similar statement Monday, the Boston Globe reports, at a press conference. He also reportedly remarked that the so-called "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly attempted to blow up a plane on Christmas Day, should be treated as an enemy combatant and sent to the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The Coakley campaign, the Globe reports, responded with a statement saying, "We find it interesting that Scott Brown did not speak out against the Bush administration" when it "chose to prosecute the 'shoe bomber,' Richard Reid, in civilian court here in Massachusetts." Coakley has also reportedly said she supports President Obama's ban on waterboarding.
The political rivals also sparred over the Democrats' health care reform plan, which could be imperiled if Brown were to win the election.
"I would be the 41st senator and would stop that particular bill, because as a Massachusetts senator I need to look out for our jobs and our hospitals," Brown said, according to Talking Points Memo. "I can stop it so they can go back to the drawing board and do something better for Massachusetts."
Coakley said she would support the final health care bill and could accept the compromise abortion language added to the Senate bill, even though she earlier said she opposed language restricting abortion rights, the AP reports. She said the Senate version of the bill was amended to at least allow women to purchase abortion coverage as a supplement to a federal insurance plan.
"I don't love that amendment, but I do believe that the Senate bill brings us further towards the two goals of health care: getting people covered and providing for transparency and competition to bring costs down," she reportedly said.
Meanwhile, Brown highlighted his history of advocating for lower taxes as a state senator, the Boston Herald reports.
"I think it's very clear there are two candidates here running, and I don't think anyone in your audience thinks Martha Coakley is a tax cutter," Brown said.
The Republican also defended an ad, Talking Points Memo reports, in which Brown compares himself to former President John F. Kennedy. In the ad, footage of Mr. Kennedy promoting lower taxes as a means of job creation fades into an image of Brown giving the same message.
Coakley reportedly responded that when Mr. Kennedy proposed tax cuts in 1962, the top marginal rate was 91 percent.
A Rasmussen poll of likely voters released today puts Coakley ahead of Brown 50 percent to 41 percent.