WBUR

Brown Declined Playing A Larger Role At RNC

Sen. Scott Brown takes questions from reporters in Tampa Thursday afternoon. (Tiffany Campbell/WBUR)

Sen. Scott Brown takes questions from reporters in Tampa Thursday afternoon. (Tiffany Campbell/WBUR)

TAMPA, FLA. — As a moderate Republican in a close fight for re-election against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown made the political calculation that it’s not beneficial to spend the week with national Republicans.

Brown arrived in Tampa Thursday to spend just one day at the Republican National Convention. Brown says that he was asked to play a larger role, but declined because he says he has other commitments.

“I have my own race, I have my own life, as you know,” Brown said. “There are only so many days in the year to be a dad and a husband and a solider and a senator and then run for re-election.”

But, Brown says, it’s not about distancing himself from his party.

“Obviously me being here is important and that shows that someone who is a pro-choice, moderate Republican is here, is part of the big tent that we have, and will continue to have with my involvement here,” Brown said. “And while I don’t agree with everything in the platform and with Gov. Romney, I have a lot of respect for him and vice versa.”

Brown says he spent most of the week fulfilling his National Guard duties.

Few members of the Massachusetts Republican party give him any grief for his choice to stay away for most of the week. They know he’s in a tough race with Warren.

“No, he should not be here,” said alternate delegate Linda Jewell of Franklin. “He’s got our votes. He needs the votes of the people back home in Massachusetts that aren’t here. And that’s where he should be, getting their votes and showing who he really is.”

The latest poll shows Brown ahead of Warren by five points. As senator, Brown has staked out a moderate stance. He’s voted with his party 54 percent of the time.

Republican Bill Carey of Osterville says that’s not enough, but he’s still a big supporter and hopes to see Brown Thursday at the convention.

“Some of the things he did I didn’t agree with, but I do understand why,” Carey said. “Because in a liberal state like Massachusetts, in order for a Republican to be elected, you have to walk a very fine line.”

And that’s what Brown is doing. Delegate Mike Morales understands why Brown would want to keep his distance, but he thinks if Brown had taken on a larger role it would have helped the party.

“I think it does the convention good to have [Scott Brown] here. And not so much coming here for himself but he comes here to show the diversity in the Republican party,” Morales said. “That it’s a big tent, you can have some senators who are more traditionally Republican and some who are more moderate.”

Certainly Brown’s cameo at the convention won’t hurt him with Republican voters, says delegate Mimi Sundstrom, from Milton.

“He does have the support of the delegation, absolutely,” Sundstrom said. “Because I’ve been making phone calls for him in 90-degree heat at these victory offices on the weekend so, I mean, people are doing the work.”

State Rep. Betty Poirier says chances are good he’ll win but it’s going to be a hard-fought battle.

“I think that Scott has proven that he’s a hard worker,” Poirier said. “That he listens to everyone, he reach across the aisle.”

Brown says he’s looking forward to the historic moment Thursday night when Mitt Romney, a Republican from Massachusetts, accepts the nomination for president.

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