PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Some say Scott Brown’s bid to weasel his way back into the Senate by moving north from Massachusetts is doomed because Granite State voters will see him as a “carpetbagger.”
But others feel New Hampshire may jump at the chance to elect a handsome pickup truck-driving senator who as a young man posed nude in Cosmopolitan and who even inspired a “Saturday Night Live” skit about how sexy he is (with “Mad Man” stud Jon Hamm playing Sen. Brown).
To paraphrase the esteemed political pundit Austin Powers: “He’s a shagadelic carpetbagger, baby!”
Unfortunately for Brown — a one-time Republican rising star who famously won “Ted Kennedy’s seat” in a 2010 special election before losing his job to Elizabeth Warren — his much-anticipated announcement Thursday night at the Sheraton in Portsmouth was preceded by several vintage gaffes.
“Live Free AND Die,” Brown says in one video clip, butchering his new home state’s signature motto, “Live Free or Die” — words that underscore New Hampshire’s reputation for having a skeptical, independent-minded, politically savvy electorate.
Perhaps he was tired from his whirlwind move from Wrentham to Rye, but he’s also on video telling a reporter he believes Granite State Republicans are thankful for his efforts to “raise awareness as to the issues that are affecting people not only here in Massachusetts, uh, in New Hampshire …;”
Granted, Brown’s decision to tweak the state motto once more at his official announcement on Thursday was not a gaffe, but it did feel like the work of an intellectual lightweight in search of a sound bite.
Playing off his top talking point — brain-dead blather about how Jeanne Shaheen and Barack Obama are destroying America and stealing our freedom by helping millions of people obtain health coverage — he dropped this zinger.
“It forces us to make a choice: Live free or log on.”
“Guess what? In New Hampshire, we choose freedom.”
Really, Scott Brown? It’s your big day. You’re officially announcing your candidacy for the United States Senate. And this is your money line?
I’m sure that will resonate with the tea-flavored Kool-Aid crowd, but I doubt most intelligent New Hampshire voters, whatever their political leanings, spend much time complaining about how Jeanne Shaheen is taking away their freedom.
According to a newspaper up in Coos County, Brown was visiting the home of GOP state Rep. Herb Richardson, railing about Obamacare being a horrific “monstrosity,” when Richardson — a Republican, mind you — responded that the controversial law had been a “financial lifesaver” for him and his wife.
Now candidate Brown must be scrambling to figure out his position on New Hampshire’s likely move to use governmental action to expand health coverage for lower-income residents. That’s a big no-no for the folks most likely to pour millions into his campaign war chest, and for those looking to fund anti-Shaheen attack ads as Republicans try to reclaim a majority in the Senate.
But you can’t fault Mr. Brown for putting most of his eggs in the “Obamacare is evil” basket.
After all, Obamacare has the word “Obama” in it. And in our current sickly dysfunctional political climate, all Republicans must vigorously oppose all things connected to Obama as anti-American, or risk being “primaried” by more conservative opponents.
At least that scheme tops the one he used the last time he tried to beat a woman for a Senate seat. Running in 2012 against Warren — a brilliant and passionate fighter for regular Americans in a system now rigged to benefit only the rich — his main strategy was to mock her for claiming she was part Native American. (Retroactive spoiler alert: She scalped him.)
In that race, Brown challenged Warren, and she agreed, to take a “People’s Pledge” promising to limit the outsized, some say insidious, influence of corporate cash that has transformed modern-day politics.
When Shaheen challenged him take the same pledge in 2014 — stop the presses — he declined. In the old days that was called flip-flopping. As in, he was for limiting the influence of deep-pocketed special interests launching attack ads before he was against it.
Perhaps Scott Brown will pick up his game. He’s trying to score a few Brownie points — reminding local folk that he was born at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Given his propensity for gaffes, I half expect him to share a heart-warming anecdote about going with his grandfather to open his first savings account at Strawberry Bank.
However, he still has a track record of odd statements that raise doubts about his honesty and intelligence, such as boasting that his experience in the Senate included “secret meetings” with “kings and queens.”
Now, I don’t want to be accused of stereotyping people who’ve posed for sexy pictures in national magazines. And perhaps it is not my place to suggest that in Mr. Brown’s case, the emperor — I mean, former Massachusetts senator — has no clothes.
But I definitely don’t want a senator who, when asked by The Associated Press whether his Bay State baggage might be a problem for Granite State voters, responded, “Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. Cause, you know, whatever.”
My senator doesn’t have to be an Einstein, but I do want representation in Washington from someone I believe is both smart and sincere.
Scott Brown seems like a very nice man with a very nice family. Nice pickup truck. Nice barn jacket. Nice smile. Nice carpet bag stuffed with tattered talking points and odd remnants.
But for me, perhaps the biggest question about Scott Brown — that rare politician to successfully transition from stripping for Cosmo to posing for Politico — is this.
How did he get those chiseled, super PAC abs?
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