WASHINGTON -- It has been a long summer for New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown.
The Massachusetts Republican, who lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts 2012, is now attempting to unseat incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Though he faces long odds in his campaign -- only two senators have ever represented more than one state in the Senate -- Republican strategists have pointed to Brown's experience and his nimble victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in 2010 as reasons why he could ultimately prevail.
Yet a series of recent missteps -- including Brown's handling of the Affordable Care Act, his apparent effort to dodge an interview on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, and his remarks on immigration reform -- have left the candidate's campaign on the defensive. A CBS/NYT/YouGov survey in July actually showed Shaheen maintaining her lead over the Republican challenger.
The latest setback came earlier this week, when Brown criticized Shaheen and President Barack Obama for failing to present an adequate solution to the crisis on the border. Recent months have seen a surge of minors from Central America crossing into the U.S. via Mexico. In an op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Brown blasted "in-state tuition for illegals" as a policy that has contributed to the influx of undocumented minors coming to the country illegally. There was just one problem, however. As a state senator in 2004, Brown voted for legislation granting undocumented immigrants in-state tuition. His campaign later explained that he was "duped" into voting for a late-night budget amendment that was ultimately vetoed by then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
The op-ed comes on the heels of Brown's remarks on immigration in July, when he accidentally let slip the word "Massachusetts" while on campaign in New Hampshire, the new state he is battling to represent. The "big difference between Sen. Shaheen and me, and many other people in the Massachusetts delegation," Brown said, is that he is "not for amnesty." Unfortunately, it's not the first time this has happened.
Also in July, Brown drew criticism after he ducked inside a bathroom to avoid a reporter who wanted to know the senator's opinion on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. In a 5-4, all-male opinion, the court held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for their employees under the Affordable Care Act. Democrats warned the decision would severely limit access to birth control, an important issue for many women voters.
Before that, Brown walked into an awkward encounter when he railed against the "monstrosity" of Obamacare at the home of a Republican state representative earlier this year. State Rep. Herb Richardson chimed in by explaining that the Affordable Care Act had actually been a "financial lifesaver" for him and his family. As his wife put it, "Thank God for Obamacare!"
But it's not just Brown who has been having trouble lately. It's his campaign, too.
A man Brown's team touted as a supporter in a July press release subsequently sent a letter to the New Hampshire Democratic office that was laced with profanity and misogyny toward Shaheen, Gov. Maggie W. Hassan, and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, according to BuzzFeed. Brown's campaign was forced to "disassociate" itself from the supporter. And then there's the matter of several campaign ads that feature Brown speaking in front of a green screen with stock video footage, giving the appearance he is out on location in New Hampshire when in fact he was likely in a studio.
Despite the missteps, polling shows that Brown still has room to improve. Only 17 percent of likely voters said they have definitely decided whom to support in the race, according to a recent WHMU poll. A whopping 69 percent are still trying to decide.
HuffPost Pollster, which averages polling data, currently shows Shaheen topping Brown 49.6 percent to 41.1 percent.