Since Saturday, the group behind TeaPartyExpress.org has spent at least $32,000 supporting Scott Brown, the Republican candidate for the Massachusetts Senate seat, federal records show. Brown’s own campaign Web site highlights a fundraiser held a couple weeks ago called the “Friends of the Tea Party Scott Brown reception,” where paying $500 earned supporters the label “American Revolutionary” (for a mere 25 bucks, you could be a “Patriot”). The conservative blogs that help fuel the tea party movement have been abuzz over Brown for weeks, eager to see the GOP candidate pull an upset win over Democrat Martha Coakley.
Which makes Brown’s statement to the Boston Globe Wednesday about all the fuss a bit of a surprise. “I’m a Scott Brown Republican,” Brown told the paper when asked about his ideological alliances. When a reporter asked him about the support from the tea party groups, he apparently demurred. “He also claimed that he was unfamiliar with the ‘Tea Party movement,’ when asked by a reporter,” the Globe reports.
National Democrats — who have been trying to highlight Brown’s conservative positions and ties to the far right, hoping that will turn off liberal Massachusetts voters — wasted no time highlighting the quote.
UPDATE: Audio of the exchange posted by the Plum Line takes off much of the edge Democrats were finding in it. Brown doesn’t seem to be disavowing the tea party movement as much as he’s dodging the question about it. “I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to,” Brown says — but it seems like he’s mostly trying to avoid talking about the tea partiers, not claiming he hadn’t heard of them. The Globe’s original characterization, it seems, went a little far.