We barely know each other." (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Back in the day, it was all love.
The mutual accolades reached a pinnacle at an annual meeting of conservative activists the month after Brown's election to the Senate.Now? Even though they share the sleazy campaign operative Eric Fehrnstrom, they keep as mum about each other—and stake out campaign stances as far from the other—as possible. Marriage equality? Romney's opposed, Brown weasels out with "it's settled law" in Massachusetts. Abortion? Romney's opposed, Brown supports choice, with all the rigamarole about no federal funding you'd expect. Brown has taken necessarily moderate votes on the new START Treaty with Russia and on Dodd-Frank (after he succeeded in negotiating a deal of a watered-down Volcker Rule in exchange for his vote), both of which Romney criticizes President Obama for. And which makes Brown as much a liability for Romney with the tea party types who helped elect Brown as Romney's newfound, severe conservatism is a liability for Brown with the majority of Massachusetts voters.
Introducing Romney, Brown joked that at the start of his Senate campaign "I could have held my campaign rally in a phone booth" and Romney was "one of those guys who was in that phone booth with me."
Romney returned the compliment moments later.
"Scott Brown, boy, I'd take him anywhere I could take him," he told the crowd.
But, at the core, they're both pretty typical Republicans. Which means they're hypocrites. When, as governor, Romney tried to do away with a state commission to help LGBT youth, Brown was the only state senator to back him up. Brown's also the guy who promises, in what he thinks is the privacy of email to conservative funders, nothing but obstruction of President Obama's agenda.
The jeopardy for Brown in being too closely associated with Romney is much greater than the reverse. Romney's damned unlikely to carry Massachusetts, and Brown's best hope is to try to divert attention from his true Republican nature.