As expected, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown announced his intention on Friday to explore a run for the same office in New Hampshire. And if his announcement is any indication, his campaign will focus on three things: his New Hampshire bona fides, his opposition to Democrats, and energizing a conservative base. The numbers prove it.
We broke the announcement down, to the word. And when we say those were the themes, we're not exaggerating. He mentioned New Hampshire itself eight times; his description of his family's history in the state was just over a quarter of his remarks. A little over 26 percent of the speech was attacking Democrats — though not Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen in particular. And just under a quarter of his remarks were pure conservative red meat: anti-Obamacare, pro-Reagan. You can see the graph of his comments below, as well as the full speech, color-coded, at the bottom of this article.
Brown's speech, by topic
According to a recent poll, Brown has some ground to make up against Shaheen, who leads him by 13 points. Brown apparently thinks the way to do so is to prove to New Hampshire voters that he agrees with their small government, conservative strain. Up to and including not wearing a motorcycle helmet.
(In the remarks below, we took the liberty of emphasizing the two key lines that were custom-made for media attention.)
Brown's full remarks, color-coded
KEY: conservative red meat | proving his New Hampshire roots | anti-Democratic rhetoric | biography
Thank you very much. Jennifer Horn, I appreciate the great efforts of you and your team at the state party. Gail and I are honored to join all of you today. I thank the elected officials here, and I especially thank all of you activists who made so many victories possible. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but together we’re going to make 2014 a great Republican year in New Hampshire and across this country.
I know that because, for about a year now, I’ve been all over this state, talking to folks and supporting good candidates. I’ve traveled so much in New Hampshire that I’m closing in on an important personal milestone: 300,000 miles on my truck. I’m pretty proud of that old GMC Canyon, and it’s sure looking good with those license plates that say, “Live Free or Die.”
Since the last election, I have made it my personal mission to travel not just around our state, but around the country. Republican groups and candidates are gathering strength, ready to give their best efforts in this election year. I’ve journeyed far and wide, glad to help wherever I can. Every one of us here shares that commitment. And if we do things right, this year will bring a defining victory for our cause.
It wasn’t so long ago that the Democratic establishment in Washington was feeling very comfortable, like they just couldn’t lose. You could tell they were comfortable because they kept shoving Obamacare at us, and didn’t much care how the American people felt about it. Well, Election Day is still eight months away, and they’re already in panic mode. A big political wave is about to break in America, and the Obamacare Democrats are on the wrong side of it.
That disastrous law began with a promise we all remember: “If you like your health plan, you can keep it, period.” Then the attitude became, “You’re going to change your plan and like it, period.” And here’s the message Americans are waiting for right now: “If we don’t like Obamacare, we can get rid of it, period.”
The Democratic leadership likes to say that Obamacare is the law because elections have consequences. But false promises have consequences too. And the party that put everything on the line for that takeover of healthcare is going to have a lot to answer for.
Tens of thousands of people in New Hampshire have lost the health coverage they liked. Thousands more are paying higher premiums for coverage they don’t like. The whole thing is such a fiasco that the administration keeps changing the law, without even bothering to ask Congress or ask you.
There’s only one way to get rid of Obamacare once and for all, and that is to get rid of the Obamacare Democrats who rammed it through Congress and forced it upon the American people. Whether it’s Nancy Pelosi saying we have to pass the bill to see what’s in it, or the go-along senators who vote 99 or 100 percent with Obama – it is time for that whole crowd to go.
The failing health care law is just the centerpiece of an agenda that is holding America back. That agenda is keeping unemployment high, raising taxes, over-regulating the private sector, hurting middle class families, overwhelming this country in debt, and weakening America’s standing in the world.
The federal government spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much – and as I’ve said before, the last thing we need in Washington is another yes-vote for a broken and misguided agenda.
We need to get off the road of big government, and focus again on private enterprise, new jobs for our people, and basic federal duties starting with the rights of our citizens and the security of our nation.
We’re seeing a constant expansion of federal power, and it’s up to us to ask the fundamental questions:
Since when can a president ignore or rewrite acts of Congress as he sees fit, as this president has done?
By what right does the IRS get off targeting groups unfavored by the federal establishment?
Why are politicians in Washington passing a stimulus that added debt but instead of being a windfall for jobs was a bonanza for insiders and special interests or friends of politicians?
The answer to all these questions is the same: None of this is anywhere near defensible in a free society.
We need a fresh new approach, and here’s the best I can do offhand: How about we start running this government again by the principles and limits of the United States Constitution?
At our best, that’s where we Republicans come in – as defenders of freedom and champions of opportunity. And “opportunity” is more than just another word in politics, when you’ve had a glimpse of life without it. We are still the party of Lincoln – we believe in the goodness and possibilities of every life.
We Republicans try to speak for men and women who work hard to make a decent living … want schools that build knowledge and character … in a nation committed to security, fairness, and freedom. We see our country as a force for the good like no other in this world. And we understand how much rides on a strong and confident America.
All of this describes the people and neighborhoods I’ve known since I was a kid, starting right here in New Hampshire. So much of my life played out in Massachusetts, but a big part of it has always been here.
I would like to take a moment to reflect back, so we can move forward.
My parents met when my Mom was a waitress at Hampton Beach, and my Dad an airman at Pease Air Force Base. They were living on Islington Street in Portsmouth when I came along. Pease had no hospital, so I was born at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
We stayed in Portsmouth until my parents separated. The story doesn’t get better from there, at least for a while, and if you read my book a few years ago you know the rest of it. It was a pretty rough upbringing. Mom and Dad were married 4 times each and I lived in 17 houses by the time I was 18. We were on public assistance for a while. And now and then, as a young boy and teenager, I got into trouble.
I worked all through college and then law school, in jobs that usually involved a mop, a paintbrush, or a shovel. Any honest work that paid the bills was good by me, as long as it kept me moving toward something better.
During my challenging early years, one influence that made all the difference for me was the care of my grandparents. And I think of them often these days, because so much of the time we spent together was here in New Hampshire.
There were summers at Hoyt’s cabins … exploring on the Rocks along the Rye Coast … playing around at Hampton Beach … walking through the gardens and catching a show at Prescott Park … or strolling through Strawbery Banke with my grandfather telling stories about how life used to be in Portsmouth.
Those places were a refuge for me as a kid, and I’ll always be grateful that I had them. Those memories are so powerful for me, that I’ve tried to share them with my wife and our own children. I cherish those memories, and those long and strong ties to this state, and without a doubt they helped to draw me back here as a full-time resident of New Hampshire.
My upbringing doesn’t always set the best example. And it might not sound like the making of a Republican. Yet when I cast my first vote for president in 1980, I knew which candidate talked my language – the language of opportunity and personal freedom – and that was Ronald Reagan.
Back then, just like today, national Democrats offered themselves as champions of the little guy … a voice for people at the bottom who didn’t have it easy. But I had been pretty close to the bottom myself, and I didn’t see it that way. When critics talked about Republicans as defenders of wealth and privilege, that sure didn’t describe the party and the cause that earned my loyalty when I had nothing.
The party of Ronald Reagan stood for liberty and equality, an upward path in life for everyone, and a strong national defense to protect our country and advance our cause in the world. That was the party I was proud to join. And though we have never been perfect, it is still the best party to lead this nation.
Since 2012, we Republicans have had to do some serious thinking after a tough loss. I’ve done some reflecting myself, and as you might recall I came up short in my last campaign.
I’m a proud Republican, but I’ve always been able to work with every person of good will, whatever their party. And we sure need more of that spirit in Washington right now, if we’re going to rise to the big and fundamental challenges facing this nation. Unless enough people in both parties can work on that basis, all you’re going to get are bad laws and a lot of resentment. There has to be a time and place where we act as Americans first, putting our country first.
That’s what I’ve been saying to fellow citizens all around New Hampshire, and there sure seems to be a lot of agreement. I’ll be listening even more closely in these coming weeks, as I near a big decision. It won’t surprise you that I’ve been paying special attention to Gail, who’s been telling me that if I really want to make a difference then I should run for United States Senator in New Hampshire.
Honey, you are right, I’m going to stop complaining and get involved again. So I am announcing that I have formed an exploratory committee to prepare a campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Starting tomorrow morning, and for the next several weeks, Gail and I will be traveling around the state to introduce ourselves, to ask questions, to speak with everyone of every background – Republicans, independents and Democrats alike – and above all to listen to them and learn of their concerns. We look forward to meeting you … to the great journey ahead … and to all that is yet to come. Thank you, and God bless you.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.