By Morgan True and Corey Kane/BU Washington News Service
TAMPA—U.S. Senator Scott Brown, R-Mass., arrived Thursday morning for the final day of the 2012 Republican National Convention, telling reporters that his brief appearance here was the result of his service as a colonel with the Army National Guard.
He said Thursday was a special day for Massachusetts, as one of their own – former Gov. Mitt Romney — was going to accept the Republican nomination for president. But he added that he would be ready to work either with a new administration or with the current one if President Obama is re-elected.
Brown said it was important for him to be in Tampa because, “I’m a pro-choice moderate Republican and that’s part of a big tent we have and should have.”
When asked if his presence at the convention could hurt his chances in a predominantly Democratic state where he faces a highly competitive contest against Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren, Brown responded: “Professor Warren would love to run against the national platform, but she’s not. She’s running against me.” He added that he believes voters in Massachusetts understand that.
Brown said that, as he gains momentum in the polls, Warren has ratcheted up the negative rhetoric. He expects that will continue as the election approaches.
When asked if his vote in favor of the so-called Blunt Amendment—which would have done away with the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act—made his claim to be a “pro-choice moderate” less credible, he replied, “I look at it as a religious issue.” He contended that his record speaks for itself.
Brown acknowledged that it has been difficult to maintain his agreement with Warren to keep money from so-called “super PACs” – groups allowed by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling to accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions – out of the Massachusetts Senate race. But he said he was proud of that effort.
When asked if the agreement would endure, he responded, “We don’t need third-parties distorting who we are.”
Later in the day, Brown addressed the Massachusetts delegation here in a private session. He opened the session with a joke, looking at the crowd and saying that he didn’t know Massachusetts had this many Republicans.
Afterward, delegates expressed excitement at the senator’s message of party unity, and said they are ready to campaign for him.
Brad Wyatt, a party organizer from Boylston, said, “He said there is 67 days until the election and we each need to get out there and make a difference.”
Brown’s 2010 campaign manager, Beth Lindstrom, said Brown needs to focus on the down economy and tout his 54 percent record of voting with the Republican Party – which makes him among the least likely GOP senators to toe the party line.
“He needs to appeal to people without a paycheck and those on unemployment. He will work with those across the aisle,” Lindstrom, a Groton resident, said.
Eighteen-year old Evan Kenny, the youngest Massachusetts delegate, was impressed with the senator’s charisma.
“He was a natural at the podium. He spoke from the heart,” the Wakefield High graduate said.
Brown said he would be on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday night for Romney’s speech. He added that he’s looking forward to spending some time with his wife, Gail Huff, and daughter, Alya Brown, who performed the national anthem at Wednesday’s convention session. He plans to fly back to Massachusetts on Friday.