What exactly is going on with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's campaign for New Hampshire's Senate seat? In Massachusetts in 2010 and 2012, Brown was an eager, aggressive campaigner, but in New Hampshire in 2014, he's often seemed disengaged and lackluster. Take the latest: Brown declined an invitation to a candidates forum because of a scheduling conflict. But then
, Manchester City Republican Chair Tammy Simmons told reporter John DiStaso:
... as another candidate was speaking, someone pointed out to her that Brown was standing in the back of the room.
She said she asked herself, “What am I going to do if he wants to speak? We had a very tight schedule.”
Simmons said she went into a hallway and conferred with another board member, who, she said, told her that “we don’t have him on the schedule and there is nothing we can do.
“But when I went back into the room, he was gone,” Simmons said. She said Brown was there for no more than five minutes.
“It was really kind of peculiar. It was odd,” but she said Brown never asked to speak and was not asked to leave the event.
Maybe Brown showed up, took in the situation, realized he wouldn't be able to speak, and just left. But as a highly recognizable former U.S. senator, he had to know his presence would be noticed, and as an experienced campaigner, he had to know it would seem weird if he didn't at least briefly speak to one of the event's organizers, if only to say "I see that you have a packed program, so I won't disrupt."
If this was the one off note in an otherwise strong campaign, it would be easily dismissed. But it's not. This is a campaign in which, visiting a state representative's home, Brown called Obamacare a "monstrosity," only to learn that his host considered the law a "financial lifesaver." That says Brown's campaign is not doing competent advance work setting up and preparing him for press events.
Then, days later, asked about concerns that he'd be seen as a carpetbagger, having been a senator in a neighboring state less than two years ago, Brown said "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state." Seriously, the man first asked if he had the best credentials and answered it with "probably not," then went on to say "'Cause, you know, whatever." That is not a candidate who's vigorously engaging with questions about his candidacy, to say the least. And to top it all off, his early fundraising was lackluster—this is a candidate with a national donor list who's raised huge amounts in the past, but only managed to raise $275,000 in the early weeks of a long-expected campaign for which he should have had significantly more lined up from past donors.
It all combines to make you wonder if Brown's heart is really in this. Yet, if it's not, why did he bother to move to a new state to run? Does he think New Hampshire's Senate seat should be his for the taking, without making a real effort? Or is he losing interest in his campaign as it sinks in that he's actually going to have to work for this?