DES MOINES, Iowa — Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown could have presidential aspirations.
The former GOP senator from Massachusetts tells The Boston Herald he’s exploring the possibility of a presidential bid in 2016. Brown says it’s “premature” to decide whether he’ll run but he’s curious if there’s any interest in him as a candidate.
Brown won a 2010 special election to replace the late Edward Kennedy but lost his re-election bid in November to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. He declined to run in another special election earlier this year after John Kerry vacated his seat to become secretary of state.
Brown is attending the Iowa State Fair, a frequent stop for possible Oval Office contenders. He’s also been mentioned as a possible candidate for Massachusetts governor and U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.
To talk more about Brown’s political future and possible presidential run, Morning Edition spoke with Jeff Berry, political science professor at Tufts University.
Bob Oakes: Inside the GOP, is Scott Brown credible as a presidential candidate? He had about three years in the Senate, in which he was, for a while, a party superstar known for his independence, a guy that a lot of people wanted to be around. But is he credible as a presidential candidate?
Jeff Berry: I think he has some credibility. I think the issue for the Republicans is that they have probably about 15 candidates who are actively pursuing or are mentioned as presidential candidates in 2016. And of those — other than Chris Christie — all of them are conservative or even more conservative. So there’s room for a moderate in this race. And I think Brown deserves some credibility just on that score alone.
But he would run as a moderate in a GOP nominating process that’s dominated by conservative types, Tea Party types. So what are his chances?
His chances are exactly that — that he’d be running against a lot of Tea Party types, and they could split the conservative vote, which is dominant in the first state, which is Iowa.
However, his problem is less the conservative than Chris Christie, who’s going to take up that moderate space and is popular on Wall Street with people that can fund a campaign. So Brown has to figure out a way of distinguishing himself from Christie and convincing moderates that he has a better chance to win the presidency than Chris Christie.
And how do you imagine he might do that?
I think Brown’s success is largely based on his distinctiveness as a moderate and as someone who believes he can work across the aisle. So, in that sense, he is like Christie. But also on the basis of personality, he’s quite different than Christie. And what he might say is, “Chris Christie’s the guy who loses his temper. He doesn’t have the temperament. People aren’t going to vote for him the fall of 2016. So if you want somebody who can win, Scott Brown’s your guy.”
Big picture, what would he bring to the presidential race?
What he’ll bring to the presidential race is the chance to bring the Republican party back to the middle. Here’s some political arithmetic. In the Republican party, only one out of every nine Republicans is a minority. So they’re largely a white person’s party at the time that America is becoming increasingly minority. With Republicans only one out of every five Americans, and Democrats one out of every three Americans, unless the Republicans move toward the middle and can figure out a way to attract minorities, they’re headed toward demographic suicide.
How reluctant would Republicans be to nominate another Massachusetts Republican as president after they failed with Mitt Romney?
Well, there’s certainly some buyer’s remorse about Mitt Romney in the Republican party. He’s gotten a lot of bad press about the quality of the campaign. I think there would be a bit of reluctance. But the way Brown wins it is not with the party bosses but by winning in the primaries, and that way he makes him the popular choice among rank and file and not among party bosses.
Bottom line then, do you think he’ll run for president? Or is it more likely that Scott Brown will run for Massachusetts governor next year, something he’s also toying with? Or do you think he won’t run for anything at all?
If he’s going to run, I would guess it’d be president. I think he actually hurts himself in terms of gubernatorial nomination by flirting with the presidency — it looks as if the governorship might be a second prize. And he has a very strong competitor in Charlie Baker for the gubernatorial nomination on the Republican side. So I think he’s, in a sense, crossing the Rubicon here.