In Concord, Brown discusses listening tour, hits Shaheen
In the five days Scott Brown has spent traveling across New Hampshire, he’s heard a lot about Obamacare, jobs, energy and gas prices. What he hasn’t heard about, he said, is the pledge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is asking him to sign to limit advertisements funded by third-party groups.
“I have no intention of signing it, people see right through the political gamesmanship she’s trying to perpetrate,” Brown said yesterday in Concord. “When I’m traveling, they don’t say, ‘You know, that People’s Pledge, Scott.’ ”
Brown was at the Grappone Conference Center last night for the Union Leader’s “40 Under Forty” event as the fifth day of his whirlwind listening tour across the state continued. Brown, a Republican former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, said he’ll soon decide whether he will enter the U.S. Senate race against Shaheen. In the meantime, he’s been spending 14 to 16 hours a day meeting with business owners, attending fundraisers and hearing from voters statewide. Earlier yesterday he stopped for a meatball sub at Constantly Pizza on South Main Street, and he attended a fundraiser in Concord the night before for state Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican.
Shaheen’s re-election campaign asked Brown to sign the People’s Pledge this weekend, a pledge he proposed and signed in his race against Elizabeth Warren in 2012. But Brown said he hasn’t seen a copy of the pledge from Shaheen, adding, “I don’t know what she’s talking about.”
Shaheen’s team disputes that: They emailed a copy of the pledge to the email address listed on Brown’s personal website, and Shaheen’s staff said she asked Brown directly about the pledge at a St. Patrick’s Day dinner in Manchester, the first time they’ve come face to face since Brown said he was exploring a run.
Brown, for his part, said he and voters have other things on their minds, such as Obamacare, which is shaping up to be the focus of his listening tour.
Voters “want to talk about the high cost of health care, they want to talk about how Obamacare is crushing their jobs and business opportunities,” Brown said. “They want somebody who’s going to not be a rubber stamp.”
Some voters also want to talk about guns. As Brown prepared to head into last night’s event, a Courtyard Marriott employee stopped him to ask about where he stands on the Second Amendment.
Brown said he’s a strong Second Amendment supporter and told the employee he would catch up with him later to further explain his position. He’s likely to hear this question a lot on the campaign trail, as he supported a state-level assault weapons ban in Massachusetts as a state lawmaker and said he would support a federal one after the shooting in Newtown, Conn. Yesterday, he told the Monitor he didn’t have enough time to delve into his record before the event, but said he’s a strong defender of gun rights.
“I’ve had a very strong and solid and reasonable position on guns and the right and ability to bear arms, so I’m not worried about my position,” he said. “I think people need to understand it because there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and that’s fine – I have time to look people in the eye and answer their questions straight up.”
As Brown made his way into the ballroom for last night’s event, a group of people gravitated toward him, shaking his hand, introducing themselves and getting a look at the man who wants to be their next U.S. senator. It’s friendly interactions like these that Brown said he and his wife, Gail Huff, have been enjoying – and the ones that make it more and more likely he’ll join the race officially.
“Gail and I were driving home last night from Concord, and we were just saying, ‘Wow, the reception has been so wonderful.’ People are just so nice, No. 1, and when they’re not going to vote for you, they are pleasant about it, and when they say they’re going to keep an open mind, they mean it,” Brown said. “So we’ll make a decision, but I want to make sure I cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.”
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)