Brown turned down RNC speech invite

‘I have other commitments,’ he says


US Sen. Scott Brown acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that he was asked by the Romney campaign to speak at the Republican National Convention, but turned it down to focus on his tight race with Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

“I have my own race. I have my own life, as you know. There’s only so many days in a year to be a dad and a husband and a soldier and a senator and run for reelection. Yeah, I was asked but I have other commitments and I’m honored to be here right now, looking forward to it,” Brown told reporters at the Marriott Hotel and Marina where Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts delegation are staying.

Brown arrived at the Republican National Convention early Thursday afternoon to be present for Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. While the official start of the convention was delayed until Tuesday, Brown spent Monday campaigning, and flew to Tampa from Washington after spending two days working at the Pentagon for his required National Guard service.

“To be a part of history is something very special and to see one of our own come out and do something special, whether they be Democrat or Republican, is good for Massachusetts,” Brown said.

Asked whether his absence up until Thursday had anything to do with wanting to distance himself ideologically from the national Republican agenda, Brown, who often plays up his independent streak over his party designation, said, “People know where I stand. They know who I am and what I vote on. I’m very public.”

In the run-up to the convention, Brown sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus advocating against the party’s platform favoring a constitutional amendment to ban abortion without exceptions for rape or the safety of the mother, though he later said he would let other moderates in Tampa fight at the convention for the change.

Brown said reporters should check with the Romney campaign about specifics of what he was asked to do at the RNC but a Brown spokesman later confirmed that he was offered a speaking role that he “respectfully declined.”

“I know professor Warren wants to nationalize this race as evidenced by her commercials, by her rhetoric. She’s running against me. She’s not running against the national ticket, or national issues. I’m a moderate pro-choice Republican who’s truly bipartisan. You’re not going to get that with her,” Brown said.

Brown’s race against Warren is one of the most closely watched in the country with Republicans aiming to pick up the handful of seats required to regain control of the U.S. Senate. With some national GOP officials acknowledging a win in Missouri will now be difficult after Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial comments on “legitimate rape,” a Brown victory is even more critical to the Republican Party’s goal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday in an interview with POLITICO compared Brown to Bryce Harper, the popular, talented rookie outfielder for the Washington Nationals.  “Scott Brown is the Bryce Harper of American politics,” McConnell said in the interview.  “Bryce Harper is sort of a phenom. Scott is a uniquely gifted political figure, a perfect senator for a deep blue state.”

Brown said he would have preferred to be compared to a different player. “If I was going to be compared to somebody, it’d be more like Dustin Pedroia. The guy that goes out there every day and just battling every day and kind of the underdog but he keeps fighting, fighting, fighting. I’m a big fan,” Brown said.

Jennifer Duffy, a Rhode Island native and analyst with the Cook Political Report, on Wednesday said Brown would likely need to win 20 percent of the Democratic vote, a hurdle she called “doable.” Brown agreed that it was a mark he could hit.

Brown said his brief visit to Tampa is the first time he has attended a national convention and had nothing specific on his itinerary, looking forward to getting to the gym and connecting with his daughter Ayla and wife Gail Huff, who planned to join him later in Florida.

Ayla Brown sang the national anthem to open the convention Wednesday night, and Sen. Brown said he watched on television. Brown has also been watching the other highlights of the convention so far on TV, calling Ann Romney’s speech on Tuesday “deeply moving and right on” and texting with Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).

Asked his impression of US Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech Wednesday night to accept the nomination for vice president, Brown called Ryan an “energetic” and “thoughtful” guy. Brown twice in the Senate voted against the budget drafted by Ryan that included deep cuts and controversial reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

“I thought he hit every point. He’s somebody who really wants to roll up his sleeves and get down to business and focus on the economic issue affecting our country. Certainly, while I voted against his budget twice, I appreciated the effort. He’s not avoiding addressing these things. There’s certainly a lot of issues we can work on together, but when I disagree I’m going to speak up,” Brown said.

The Wrentham Republican also weighed in on the pact signed with Warren’s campaign seeking to limit the influence of outside spending groups on their Massachusetts race by requiring either campaign to pay a fine to charity if they benefit from spending.

He said that even as the national pressure on both sides intensifies in the closing weeks of the campaign, he hoped super PACs and other groups would steer clear of Massachusetts.

“I believe it should stick. We keep telling groups to stay out and let us do our thing because we’re going to have the resources to do our thing and talk about where we stand on the issues, so yeah, I’m telling them to stay out and if they don’t we have to pay a fine,” Brown said.

“We don’t need the third party groups to come in and distort who we are and what we believe. We’re two thoughtful and intelligent people and we can express our views however we want,” he said.

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Matt Murphy

State House News Service
Democrats have been chiding Brown in the lead up to his first appearance at the RNC, suggesting that while in Tampa he will be getting reacquainted with the wealthy business interests they say he has protected in Congress.

“Scott Brown’s Tampa trip is going to be jam packed. He’s got a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it, so we figured we’d help him out. Putting billionaires over the middle-class is hard work, but with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan around, we have no doubt he’ll try to get the job done,” Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh said in a statement. “Meanwhile, back here at home, middle class families and small businesses will still be waiting for the tax cuts Scott Brown has blocked.”