(CNN) - President Barack Obama's weighing in on what could turn into the hottest U.S. Senate battle this year.
When asked during an interview Wednesday with New England Cable News whether former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts - who's taken an important step towards running for the Senate this year in neighboring New Hampshire - is the kind of moderate Republican needed on Capitol Hill, the President said he'll wait to comment until Brown formally announces his candidacy.
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But Obama went on to say that "I'd be happy if Scott Brown wants to move down to Texas," adding that "we could always use some moderate Republicans in other parts of the country."
The President also touted Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the Granite State's incumbent Democrat, who's running for re-election this year, and who could face a tough race if Brown does formally jump in and wins his party's Senate nomination.
Brown invites Obama to N.H.
Brown reacted to Obama's comments Thursday morning, inviting the President to join Shaheen on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
"President Obama and Jeanne Shaheen are joined at the hip. If it wasn't for Jeanne Shaheen, Obamacare would not have become the law of the land. He is going to do everything he can to help Jeanne Shaheen in this election, and today I am inviting her to bring him to New Hampshire to defend their health care law. Nothing will stop me from continuing to tell the truth about this disastrous health care law and its negative effects on the people of New Hampshire," said Brown in a statement.
The Republican Party of New Hampshire chair Jennifer Horn echoed Brown's comments in a statement of her own.
Then-Sen. Obama won New Hampshire, which is considered a battleground state, by nine percentage points in his 2008 presidential election, and carried the state by six points in his 2012 re-election. The President made five campaign stops in the Granite State during the 2012 election cycle, according to an unofficial count by CNN. But the President's current approval rating in the state stood at 40% in a recent Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll and at 31% in an American Research Group survey.
Brown joins three other Republicans who are running for their party's Senate nomination in New Hampshire: former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, former state Sen. Jim Rubens, and conservative activist Karen Testerman.
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, a native of New England, said he thinks the President's comments may help Brown as he battles for his party's Senate nomination.
"He's (Brown) now going to go around and start saying 'the President's talking about me.' It helps boost him," said King, adding that "from an ego standpoint, this was a boost to Scott Brown."
If Brown ends up winning the party's September primary, it could expand the map for Republicans. Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states, like New Hampshire.
But the Suffolk University and ARG polls indicate Shaheen has a double digit lead over Brown in a general election showdown. According to the ARG survey, 50% of Granite State registered voters say they would support Shaheen, with 38% backing Brown and 12% undecided. And Shaheen had a 52%-39% lead among New Hampshire voters in the Suffolk University poll.
From state house to Senate
In January 2010, the then little-known Republican state senator in Massachusetts pulled an upset in a special election to serve the final three years of the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy's term. But Brown's time in the Senate was cut short when Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren defeated him in the 2012 election.
Last year, Scott passed on running in a special election in Massachusetts to fill the term of John Kerry, who left the Senate to become secretary of state. And at the time, Brown also announced that he wouldn't make a 2014 bid for an open governor's seat in the Bay State.
Brown last year made a number of speaking appearances at GOP events in the Granite State, where he spent much of his childhood and where he owned a vacation home. Last fall, in another hint about a possible run, he dropped the 'MA' from his Twitter handle.
A few months later, he sold his home in Massachusetts and moved his residency north to New Hampshire.