WASHINGTON -- Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown has spent months hammering President Barack Obama on the issue of border security as part of his effort to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). But last week, Brown went slightly off-script by conceding that it was not, in fact, Obama's fault that the border isn't secure.
"We need to secure the border once and for all," Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts, said during an Oct. 1 panel in Walnut Creek, California.
"And I know it's been going on with other presidents, I'm not going to say it's his fault. It's everybody's fault."
Brown did, however, criticize Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which allows young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States.
"The president expanding the definition of refugee, allowing mostly young children and others to come through the border … it sends a very bad message," Brown said, adding that he voted twice to secure the border during his time in the Senate.
"That being said, I know there are other issues affecting immigration," he said. "But until we get to the core problem, which is once and for all truly sending the message, cutting off the border, cutting off the incentives and the green light neon sign, we're going to continue to revisit this over and over and over again."
Watch Brown's comments in the video above.
The noticeably softer remarks marked a shift for Brown, who has made border security a cornerstone of his campaign in recent months. His campaign has run as many as three television spots that directly blame the border crisis on the "pro-amnesty policies" of Obama and Shaheen. In one ad, Brown looks into the camera and asks, "Want to know why there's lawlessness on our border? Ask Senator Shaheen," before flashing an image of Shaheen and Obama standing together. In another, he links border security with the Islamic State and says Obama and Shaheen "seem confused" about the threat posed by the militant group.
Brown also made immigration and national security the focal point of a foreign policy speech at Saint Anselm College last month.
"The Obama-Shaheen agenda of amnesty and no border enforcement is only inviting more chaos and danger," Brown said. "Illegal immigration is, above all, a national security challenge."
The strategy has proved fruitful for Brown, who continues to trail Shaheen but has gained momentum in recent polls. HuffPost's Pollster average, which combines all publicly available polling, shows Shaheen ahead by four percentage points -- down from a lead of more than six points as recently as last month.
It's no surprise that Brown has sought to tie Shaheen to Obama at every turn. The president's approval rating among likely New Hampshire voters stands at just 38 percent, according to a recent CNN poll. At a campaign event last month, Brown said Shaheen "is voting with the president 99 percent of the time."
A spokeswoman for Brown's campaign said there was no discrepancy in his position on the border and national security.
"Brown has been consistently critical of both President Obama and Jeanne Shaheen for supporting pro-amnesty legislation and failing to secure the southern border," Brown campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton said in an email to The Huffington Post.
The former senator has certainly kept the border issue front and center as he continues to campaign across the Granite State.
In a radio interview Thursday, Brown delivered his familiar border security attack on Shaheen, but also introduced the deadly Ebola virus into the mix.
"She's voted not to secure the border and I have," he said. "It's so critically important that we really use every tool, shut out every mechanism for them and that disease and other potential diseases to come into our country."
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