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.

 

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.”