Editorial: Scott Brown for president? Really?
Just when we were getting used to the idea of Scott Brown morphing into a Granite Stater and giving U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen a run for her money in the 2014 election (not to mention potential Republican competitors Bob Smith, Jeb Bradley, Karen Testerman and Jim Rubens), he seems to have his eye on an even bigger prize.
Brown, the former Republican U.S. senator from Massachusetts, spent the weekend in Iowa where, he told CNN, he’s peddling two messages: “Washington’s dysfunctionality” and the notion that the Republican Party “has room for everybody.”
“You have the Rand Pauls, the Sarah Palins. You have people like me and Chris Christie and others. There should be room for all of us. We shouldn’t be vilified or demonized when we are trying to present our positions,” he said.
Brown vaulted to national fame when, as a “moderate,” he won a special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by liberal icon Ted Kennedy. Three years later, he lost it to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Since then, he has considered a run for the Senate from New Hampshire; for governor of Massachusetts; and, now, for president.
The notion of political “moderation” means different things to different people – especially at a time when the Republican Party is in thrall to uncompromising extremists. Brown describes himself as a bipartisan problem-solver – conservative on matters of fiscal policy, less so on some social issues, and willing to work with Democrats to get things done. In 2012, he said he did not share Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s “world view” and criticized his party’s increasingly right-leaning national tilt; of course, he was trying to win a race in Massachusetts at the time.
It’s hard to understand Brown’s presidential strategy. Surely he knows the track record of similar candidates in recent years. (Anyone remember Jon Huntsman?) Surely the more accomplished Christie of New Jersey will be making a similar pitch to potential voters.
Yes, national party leaders are rightly eager to broaden their party’s appeal. But the early presidential voting – particularly in Iowa and South Carolina – is typically dominated by right-wing activists eager for an ever more partisan, more conservative nominee. Even in a New Hampshire Senate race, Brown faces the substantial task of convincing voters he is more than just a carpetbagger looking for a ticket back to Washington – not to mention a formidable Democratic opponent. But it strikes us he might just have better luck here than on the national stage.