· By Jon Wolper, Valley News Staff Writer Sunday, April 21, 2013
Hanover — Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown championed individualism in the Republican Party yesterday during a speech at a Grafton County Republican Committee luncheon.
Addressing a crowd of more than 100 at the Hanover Inn, Brown called himself a “Scott Brown Republican,” which he defined as a member of the party who can subscribe to its ideologies while still coming to independent conclusions on issues.
“We have to have our ability to be who we are within our party,” Brown said. “I’m not a clone.”
Brown, who owns a home in Rye, N.H., has delivered several speeches in New Hampshire this month, prompting murmurs that he may challenge Democrat Jeanne Shaheen for her Senate seat. On April 4, he declined to rule out a 2014 run against Shaheen. In an appearance on Fox News a week ago, he again demurred.
When asked by reporters yesterday about a potential run, Brown nearly repeated his Fox News Sunday answer verbatim.
“As I said before, nothing’s off the table, nothing’s on the table,” he said yesterday. “Right now I’m just going to focus on recharging the batteries.”
In his speech, the moderate Republican said partisan arguing at the national level is hindering progress on the country’s pressing problems.
“If we’re going to battle in the years to come, we need to have dignity,” he said. A common bond needs to be forged between the parties to solve crises such as the national debt. “Because guess what? We’re in trouble. We’re in deep trouble.”
The message seemed to resonate with much of the crowd, which included former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass and former state Rep. Gary Lambert. Many of the attendees brought along copies of Against All Odds, Brown’s 2011 memoir.
Afterward, Karen Cervantes, a Lebanon resident and member of the Grafton County Republican Committee’s executive board, said she was “very impressed” with Brown’s speech, even if his ideology leans a bit more to the left than she’d prefer.
Cervantes, who was wearing Brown’s necktie around her neck — she’d won it in an auction right before his speech for $250 — said her support of Brown in a potential Senate run would be contingent upon his primary opponent. If, hypothetically, he ended up squaring off against 2012 gubernatorial hopeful Ovide Lamontagne, she’d vote for Lamontagne.
“I think it will come down to who that opponent or opponents may be,” Cervantes said.
Andre Rowell, a senior at White Mountain School in Bethlehem, N.H., supported Brown’s call that both sides find common ground.
“I thought the speech was really well delivered,” Rowell said.
“I think that that’s the way the Republican Party needs to go.”
Most of the speakers who preceded Brown had more fiery messages, though, expressing a desire that Upper Valley Republicans stick to the party’s core values — and stick together.
Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the New Hampshire GOP, said if a sense of unity can be forged, the Granite State could switch political colors next year. “We have to stand together,” Horn said. “We have to continue the fight. It is too important for any one of you to decide to give up on it.”
Former state Rep. Paul Simard echoed those thoughts, especially for Republicans in the Upper Valley.
“This is a stronghold for Democrats,” he said, “and we want to emphasize that yes, there are Republicans in the northern half of Grafton County.”
Jon Wolper can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3248.
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