Brown Makes the Rounds, Talks Up Bipartisanship

Posted January 21, 2010 at 12:32pm

Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was still in campaign mode Thursday as he chatted up reporters, Senators and tourists during his first trip to the Capitol after his upset special election victory earlier this week.

A Republican elected in a strongly blue state, Brown preached the virtues of bipartisanship and declared, “I’m willing to look at every bill on its merits.—

But Brown, whose win gave the GOP 41 votes and has sent the bruised Democratic majority scrambling, stopped short of placing himself in the center of the ongoing health care reform debate .

“One of the things I heard throughout my state is people are outraged at the backroom deals,— Brown said, “People want good government, they want transparency, they want us to solve problems.—

Brown kicked off the day by meeting with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee known for his independent streak.

“Hopefully now that we have 41 votes the president will sit down with us and not dictate to us,— McCain said.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wore a different expression as he reflected on his new home-state colleague’s decisive win over Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) for the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D).

“I think the people of Massachusetts voted for change and to express some frustration,— Kerry said. “A lot of us feel that frustration.—

But the Bay State’s senior Senator, aware of the effect Brown’s victory may have for health care reform, talked up the more popular components of the bill, such as provisions dealing with pre-existing conditions. He said: “There have got to be some basic things we can agree on.—

Brown made the rounds with just two advisers from his campaign at his side, stopping to answer reporter questions along the way. He pulled up to the Russell Senate Office Building in a Jeep Cherokee just after 10 a.m., rather than the pickup truck featured in a host of his campaign ads. In addition to McCain and Kerry, Brown also paid visits to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), who temporarily held the seat after Kennedy died.

“I’m really, really happy to have him here,— McConnell said. “He’s ready to work and we’re ready to get started.—

While it remains unclear when Brown will be sworn in, the proper paperwork could be in place for him to assume office on Tuesday, just in time for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday.