U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown kicks off ‘Women for Brown’ initiative
Growing the economy, repealing Obamacare and getting the government off the backs of business owners is how Washington politicians can improve the country, for men and women, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown said yesterday at the launch of his “Women for Brown” initiative.
“This is the start of a great fight for the identity of our country and to fight for the issues that matter for everybody, including women,” Brown said.
About 35 women joined Brown at his headquarters in Manchester for the kickoff of the organizing committee, chaired by former state representatives Maureen Mooney of Merrimack and Julie Brown of Rochester, and Jane Lane, a former president of the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women. In a 20-minute speech, Brown talked about his upbringing, the success of his wife, Gail Huff, and two daughters, and a wide-ranging list of priorities from cutting taxes to strengthening America’s foreign policy.
He did not specifically address issues such as abortion, access to contraception or equal pay. Democrats began attacking Brown before he entered the race for his vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act when serving in the U.S. Senate in 2012 and his support for allowing companies to deny contraception in health insurance coverage for religious reasons. But several women at the event said Democrats’ accusations that Republicans are waging a “war on women” isn’t true.
“Don’t let yourselves get tied into what the Democrats call the ‘War on Women;’ don’t even use that phrase,” Lane said. “They don’t know what they’re talking about because Republicans do care about women, just like they care about all people.”
Mooney, who is considering a bid for retiring state Sen. Peter Bragdon’s seat, told the crowd she’s behind Brown for three reasons: He can win in the fall, he’s “not a puppet to his political party,” and he’s proved accessible to voters as he travels throughout the state meeting people. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, however, shouldn’t be able to win given her vote on Obamacare, Mooney said. Furthermore, Shaheen never breaks from her party and isn’t “around,” Mooney said.
“Frankly, if you’d like to catch a glimpse of her, perhaps there’s a high-end fundraiser in Manhattan or California that you could attend to talk with her,” Mooney said.
Brown, for his part, was paid to speak at a conference put on by hedge fund managers in Las Vegas last week. His campaign has not said how much he was paid. (It should be filed in his personal financial disclosure form. He asked for an extension beyond the May 15 deadline, as did a number of sitting senators.) Shaheen made public appearances in Concord on Friday and yesterday.
Brown opened his remarks by talking about his wife and two daughters, Ayla and Arianna. All three are hard workers who, like many women, want to “have it all,” Brown said. Huff has been able to have a career and a family, Brown said, and it works in part because the two are a team.
He then pivoted to talking about Shaheen’s votes in favor of Obamacare and against a number of attempts to exempt existing health insurance plans that didn’t meet the requirements of the new law. Brown has made opposing Obamacare a central piece of his campaign. But during his speech, he also said Shaheen has failed to lead on foreign policy. Brown said he worked to get Boko Haram, the organization that recently kidnapped more than 270 girls in Nigeria, classified as a terrorist organization, but his bill died in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Shaheen sat on.
More broadly, Brown said businesses are struggling due to overregulation and too many taxes, while families are seeing the prices of energy and food rise, which are all issues that matter to women. He once again stated his support for the Keystone XL Pipeline and briefly addressed news reports that he asked Republican senators to vote against an energy efficiency bill Shaheen sponsored with a Republican senator.
“Apparently while I’m driving around in my truck in New Hampshire, I apparently derailed a bill in Washington,” he joked. “I have this amazing power I guess.”
Democrats’ refusal to allow an amendment on the pipeline is an example of Washington dysfunction that Shaheen is part of, he said. Democrats have pointed to Brown’s efforts to derail the bill, saying that he, in fact, helped cause that dysfunction.
After the speech, two women in attendance said they are supporting Brown because they believe he’s an independent thinker who will do what is right for the country. Tricia Melillo of Mason said she doesn’t agree with Brown on all issues, but she thinks he’s the right candidate for the job.
“I like someone who’s not going to just vote the party line, who votes what he thinks is best for his constituents, period,” Melillo said. “I don’t vote for a candidate because he’s specifically good for women, even though I am a woman. I think it should be for all groups; what’s best for my state and my country, not specifically for my group.”
Her friend Susan Bird, a member of Brown’s leadership team, agreed.
“I actually look down on a candidate who starts catering to a certain demographic just to get that vote,” she said.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)