What in the world is Scott Brown thinking?

The former Massachusetts senator will never win a Republican presidential primary -- but he's got other motives

Topics: Scott Brown, 2016 Elections, Presidential Race, Vice presidential search, Iowa caucuses, Iowa, Chris Christie, Elizabeth Warren,

What in the world is Scott Brown thinking?Scott Brown (Credit: AP/Alex Brandon)

Former Massachusetts senator and current Wall Street lobbyish (he’s not technically a lobbyist, but come on …) Scott Brown visited Iowa this weekend and personally told reporters that he’s thinking about running for president, governor of Massachusetts, or even senator from New Hampshire, where he has a vacation home. It’s never a good sign when you have to raise the prospects of a presidential bid yourself, as opposed to letting allies and surrogates build the buzz for you and then reluctantly jumping in once there’s an an apparent groundswell of demand, so one might wonder what his play is here.

Let’s get one thing straight: Scott Brown will never win a Republican primary. Not even close. The primary process is dominated by the most ardent GOP voters and activists, the kinds of people who want a red-blooded conservative populist, not some self-proclaimed “bipartisan problem solver” who bent over backward in his 2012 race to paint himself as a moderate salve to the Tea Party’s intransigence (a race he lost, by the way). A majority of Republican voters want the party to be more conservative than it already is (just 35 percent of Democrats say their party should be more liberal). And many of the grass-roots leaders important to winning primaries in places like Iowa and South Carolina say Mitt Romney lost because he wasn’t conservative enough.

The story of the 2012 primary was the story of candidates trying to out-Goldwater one another, where Gov. Rick Perry got pilloried for suggesting that his fellow conservatives have a heart when it comes to undocumented immigrants and Tea Party activists yelled that young people should be allowed to die because they lack health insurance. Remember, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum were the front-runners at various points. And there’s little indication the grass roots will change their priorities by 2016, even as party leaders in Washington desperately try to rebrand.

Brown says there’s room for a moderate, as the rest of the pack competes for the right. But look at how well that strategy worked out for Jon Huntsman, who had more money, more favorable press and better credentials than Brown will. Huntsman didn’t make it past Jan. 15. And besides, if Republican voters suddenly decide they want a blue-state “moderate,” they’ll (probably) have Chris Christie, who has the benefit of actually being successful in his Democratic home state and is many times the politician Scott Brown could ever hope to be.

You Might Also Like

As for ousting New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, that seems only marginally more likely that winning the White House. Republican have had difficulty finding someone to challenge the popular Democrat, even though the race should theoretically be competitive, and New Hampshire voters may not take kindly to a carpetbagger like Brown. Shaheen trounced Brown in a poll from earlier this year.

Which all demands the question: What the hell is Scott Brown thinking? First of all, it almost never hurts to fake a run for the presidency. If expectations are low, and they definitely are for Brown (see: above), then you have nowhere to go but up. A failed bid that manages to capture at least a sliver of the electorate and last past New Hampshire — where Brown would presumably be strong — can keep you relevant, boost your visibility, and get you booked on TV. That’s valuable to Brown’s Wall Street clients, and it’s valuable to Brown if he wants to run for governor or another office down the road.

He could also just want “an opportunity to get my views out,” as Rep. Peter King acknowledged of his even more hopeless, self-floated potential presidential run.

Or maybe Brown is actually running for a position you can’t actually run for: the vice-presidential slot. It’s conceivable that a conservative candidate like Rick Santorum or Marco Rubio would want to cleanse himself after selling his soul to the Tea Party in the primary by hiring a moderate blue-stater like Scott Brown to help him make the inevitable trek back to middle for the general election. Maybe. In that case, Brown probably has little to lose.

And one final question: Why does no one seem to be questioning Brown’s qualifications to run (even if they’re questioning his chances), when the woman who defeated him, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, has faced a slew of condescending coverage about a hypothetical presidential run?

Alex Seitz-Wald
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...