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Republican Scott Brown’s campaign language has the aura of a revolutionary crusade. His election corps is called the Brown Brigade, he talks about red invading the blue state and he calls his fundraisers "money bombs."
State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour gives Brown a lot of credit for energizing Republicans. "When you see someone with such a great positive attitude about what he’s doing and when people keep tell you, 'God you have an uphill battle,' and you walk in with a smile on your face and say, 'I can do this,' you start to make people believe that you can do it," she said.
Coupled with his celebrity magazine good looks — he was Cosmopolitan's sexiest man in 1982 — and friendly personality, Brown has become a true contender to Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Democrats have themselves to blame for giving Republicans hope, said long-time Democratic strategist Michael Goldman, at Government Insight Group. "I think it was easy to believe post the primary that the Brown camp was never going to get the kind of traction or attention that would force her to engage," he said.
So Coakley coasted. She opened two field offices to Brown’s nine across the state. He’s been out every day on the campaign trail; she virtually disappeared over the holidays. He was the first to mount TV ads and held his own in the debates.
Early on, Democrats let Brown define himself, Goldman said, as "a really swell fellow, basically a moderate Republican — maybe even a conservative Democrat — when in fact this person has been and is an extremely conservative Republican, far to the right of anyone we’ve elected in this state."
Here are some of Scott Brown’s positions: He favors the death penalty. He is against gay marriage. He questions whether global warming is man-made or natural. He does not believe waterboarding is torture. He says he supports Roe v. Wade but he has not promised to protect abortion rights, and he’s been endorsed by the anti-abortion group Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
Ron Kaufman, former White House director and Republican National Committeeman for Massachusetts, said Brown’s climb in the polls should be credited to his stance on issues voters care about.
Voters are "upset with health care, they are upset with spending, they are upset with huge deficits, they are upset with terrorism and they are in sync with where Scott Brown is on issues and where she’s not," Kaufman said.
But in recent polls, voters say they see Coakley as the best candidate to handle issues such as taxes, the economy and health care. So that gets back to campaign strategy to explain why she’s not dominating the race.
For instance, Democrats should have reacted strongly when Brown compared himself with President John F. Kennedy, said Steve Grossman, former chair of the state Democratic Party. But Grossman said they did not get the wake up call until some recent polls showed a close race.
Then, Grossman said, the Coakley campaign realized: "Oh my goodness, we may have taken a little too much for granted and it's time for us to get to work."
There was another surprise this week when Brown raised $1.3 million in one day of online fund-raising. Now, Sen. John Kerry is sending e-mails to supporters nationwide calling the race a "dead heat" and asking for help.
In their hearts and in their internal polling, Democrats know it would be almost impossible for the so-called "Kennedy seat" to go to a Republican. But now they are upping their involvement in the final days of this campaign to make sure.
This program aired on January 14, 2010.
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