Scott Brown: remember the Blunt Amendment

It’s official, and it’s no surprise: Scott Brown is running in New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, in hopes of replacing Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

I recently had a short, pleasant, and unexpected conversation with him. On this occasion I had no notebook, no audio recorder, and no preparation. He knew I’m pro-life, and I know he calls himself pro-choice. So what about that?

Regarding the right to life, he affirmed “I’m a pro-choice Republican. But I’ve always been in favor of parental involvement. Against federal funding. Remember the Blunt Amendment? I voted for it. That cost me the election.” (That was 2012, when he lost his U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts to Elizabeth Warren.)

Remember the Blunt Amendment. That’s worth mentioning. At the time it came up, Scott Brown said, “No one should be forced by government to do something that violates the teachings of their faith.” That’s the sort of thing that prompted EMILY’s List to support Warren over Brown.

When Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate (the HHS mandate) was first announced, requiring employers to participate in the provision of contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs, Missouri senator Roy Blunt tried to get conscience exemptions written into the law. In the parliamentary whirl of Beltway politics, that meant trying to tack an amendment onto a highway bill. The amendment was killed, with Brown voting with most of his Republican colleagues to support conscience rights. (Maine Republican Olympia Snowe cast the sole Republican vote to kill the measure.)

Brown told me that cost him the election – “and I’d support it again.” Here’s an op-ed he wrote for the Boston Globe in 2012 about the issue.

When he spoke with me, Brown went on to say, “This election is going to be about the economy.” That will be music to the ears of the legacy Republicans who sang the same song in 2012 and then wondered why social conservatives stayed home – not to mention music to the ears of Shaheen Democrats who know that they can make the election all about social issues, knowing “economy” candidates won’t fight back. But I digress.

I give Brown credit for calling me out of the blue, and for being straightforward with me about being “pro-choice.” More so, I respect and thank him for his support of the Blunt Amendment.

This wasn’t a formal sit-down, so I don’t consider it part of my series of interviews with the Senate candidates. The three published so far are with Karen Testerman, Jim Rubens, and Bob Smith.