While Scott Brown explores a Senate run, let’s explore his record on life issues

Former U.S. Senator Scott Brown – ex-Massachusetts, now a New Hampshire resident – has set up an exploratory committee for a return trip to the the U.S. Senate, with hopes of sending Jeanne Shaheen packing. He has to get past a Republican primary first. What’s a pro-life voter to do?

What’s he saying as he “explores” the New Hampshire seat? Not much.

First of all, don’t try to learn anything from his web site, scottbrown.com. It has next to no information yet. The biography on his Facebook page makes no mention of his life-issues record.

What has he said in the past?

Brown self-identifies as “pro-choice,” according to numerous articles about his earlier Senate campaigns. According to the Boston Globe (9/20/12), when he was challenged by Elizabeth Warren in a campaign debate, he answered, “Listen, we’re both pro-choice. I’m a moderate pro-choice Republican. I always have been.”

He voted in favor of “Romneycare” when he was a Massachusetts state senator, but he was opposed to Obamacare. A key to his 2010 victory when he won the seat previously held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy was his declaration that he would be “the 41st vote” against Obamacare, preventing Senate Democrats from breaking any potential GOP filibuster on the measure. (Later parliamentary maneuvers led to passage of the law in a manner that prevented a filibuster.)

He co-sponsored the Blunt Amendment, which would have respected the religious liberty rights of employers refusing to pay for contraception and other medical services in employee insurance if the employers had a religious or moral objection. (The measure was not passed.)

He opposed the appointment of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision for which he was attacked by his 2012 Senate opponent, Elizabeth Warren.

From Brown’s campaign press secretary, 2012: “Senator Brown supports the right of women to make this decision [abortion] in consultation with their doctor. He supports strong parental notification laws and opposes partial birth and taxpayer-funded abortions.”

Follow the abortion-advocacy money: Coakley, Warren, Shaheen

Calling himself pro-choice has not helped Brown with abortion advocacy groups. Brown’s U.S. Senate campaigns so far have been textbook examples of defensive elections for prolife voters. Both Martha Coakley (Brown’s opponent in the 2010 Senate race) and Elizabeth Warren (who beat him in 2012) are vociferously pro-abortion, and they received support from EMILY’s List, probably the best-funded group dedicated to electing “pro-choice Democratic women” at all levels.  Shaheen is a longtime EMILY’s List favorite.

The day Brown announced his exploratory committee for Shaheen’s seat, this was on EMILY’s List’s Twitter feed:

In 2010, Massachusetts Citizens for Life supported Brown over Coakley. The Susan B. Anthony List applauded his 2010 election as well, but did not concern itself with his 2012 race. From Politico

“We lauded his victory in the special election because it was part of a defensive campaign to block abortion in the health care bill,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The special election was a unique situation where every vote mattered. He is not a pro-life champion and does not claim to be, and there is no chance that we would help him in the coming election.”

 

 

 

 

 

CPAC’14 preliminary schedule shows little about the life issues

CPAC 2014 is less than two weeks away: probably the biggest gathering of conservatives (not all of them pro-life) you’re likely to find outside a party convention. My media credential is printed and ready to be packed. A preliminary list of topics for the main-stage and breakout sessions came out today.

Note the parenthetical phrase in the preceding paragraph.

At last year’s CPAC, I listened to Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life and Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, and I watched an early screening of 3801 Lancasterand I heard mainstage speakers like Ben Carson and Eric Metaxas take on  “social issues” with gusto.

Well, at least Metaxas and Carson will be back this year.

This year’s schedule so far includes presentations and panels on Obamacare, the role of the executive branch vis-a-vis the legislative branch, the economy and immigration. I can attend sessions about marijuana legalization, privacy issues, criminal justice reform, Common Core, conservatism within the entertainment industry, entrepreneurism, and social media.

Life and religious liberty haven’t made the cut yet. There’s nothing listed about the HHS mandate, with a Supreme Court ruling on it due within a few months. This is an odd omission. “Expect additions and changes in the coming days,” says the schedule. Let’s hope so.

I do see a scheduled panel entitled “Why Conservatism is Right for Women: how conservatives should talk about life, prosperity, and national security.”  I devoutly hope no one from the RNC – at least, no one who was on the RNC in 2012 – will be on that panel to try to explain how conservatives should talk about life.

The truth remains that not every pro-lifer is conservative, and not every conservative is pro-life. Undoubtedly, some of CPAC’s mainstage speakers will seize the opportunity to put life and religious liberty up there where they belong. It’s interesting, though, to see what’s on the agenda so far.

Eat your heart out, Fox News: follow me to CPAC for pro-life coverage

I’ll be taking Leaven slightly-outside the Beltway later this week, as I head to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland from Thursday through Saturday, March 14-15-16. There will be hundreds of reporters and bloggers there to follow every word from the rock stars at the main podium. I’m less interested in the rock stars, fascinating though they may be, than I am in the pro-lifers at the event. I am also interested in how politicians who spent all last year calling social issues a “distraction” talk about the pro-life movement now.

Why am I heading down there when I’m not getting paid? Because I honestly believe pro-lifers need to keep an ear to the ground and do their own reporting when politicians have a gathering like this. With all due respect to legacy media and conservative bloggers, news and commentary of interest to pro-life voters often gets lost in the shuffle. What I’ll be watching and listening for:

  • Who mentions social issues in a speech, and who doesn’t? Who writes off or scolds pro-lifers, or uses that dreaded d-word (“Distraction”)?
  • Do any of these potential candidates and policy wonks understand the religious liberty threat posed by Obamacare? Will any of them attack the HHS mandate, which by the way would be a winning issue for any candidate with the gumption to use it?
  • What’s the buzz about New Hampshire’s First-In-The-Nation primary? Many of these speakers will be making the rounds of our Old Home Days in a couple of years, if not earlier. Do they appreciate our state’s role in the process? [Post-CPAC note: this wasn’t addressed at the sessions I attended.]
  • There are three tiers of speakers and presentations at CPAC going on simultaneously, and some of the most interesting events are the less-heralded ones. That’s where the life-issue presentations are hidden, for the most part. I want to shine a light on them.
  • What’s in the exhibit hall, away from the cameras and mics?

And so forth. While I’ll be working from a schedule, I expect to improvise. Major media will cover the A-list speakers, so if I miss Donald Trump in favor of a panel on Obamacare, I won’t worry.

Pro-life, conservative, and Republican are not the same thing, although there is significant overlap. I have a stake in each camp, as a pro-life independent (and recovering Republican) who is conservative in many but not all respects. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the party this weekend. CPAC is sponsored by the American Conservative Union, its main speakers are high-profile Republicans, and once-and-future candidates for high office will strut their stuff in front of thousands of activists, pitching for votes. I expect to be in blogger heaven.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte is one of the featured speakers Friday morning. [An earlier version of this post mentioned state Rep. Marilinda Garcia as one of the emcees; an updated schedule does not show her name.]

My apologies in advance to my email subscribers; I don’t mean to spam you. I will liveblog each day, and I hope not every update will trigger a message to your inbox. In addition, I’ll have special-feature posts as coverage demands.

Please leave me a comment in the weekend’s posts if you have any questions. You can also contact me via Twitter, @nhflatlander. You can follow Leaven by clicking the button on the blog’s home page, or “like” the Leaven for the Loaf page on Facebook. Tell your friends, too.