Primary 2014: A Conversation With U.S. Senate Candidate Scott Brown

Aug 27, 2014

Scott Brown in NHPR's studio
Credit Rebecca Lavoie for NHPR

We continue our series of conversations with three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination in the U.S. Senate.

Scott Brown served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for three years, from 2010 to 2013. He also served in the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives.

Scroll down to find the full, unedited audio of our interview with Brown. Here are excerpts of his responses to some of the issues discussed, with his full answers (and more questions) in the audio.

We’ll start with the recent news about James Foley and what’s been happening in Iraq with the Islamic State also known as ISIS. Where do you see the American role in that conflict going forward?

I feel very badly obviously for him and his family and for those who have been killed, those families whose lives have been torn apart as a result of the actions of ISIS. That’s why I’m more resolved now than I’ve ever been to make sure these types of things don’t happen again, number one. But more importantly, what is the goal of ISIS? Their goal is to get a country and get the resources of that country and then export terrorism around the region and the world. That’s their goal.

Our goal should be to work with our Arab league partners and our allies to make sure that they don’t get their own country. They wanted to put a flag in the White House. And by doing what they did as retaliation for our involvement in pushing them back, I think people understand that Islam and religion actually plays a role in these radical Islamic terrorists.

I feel that we need to stay resolved. I have said publicly that the president is right to arm the Kurds, to push back on ISIS, to disrupt and dismantle their command structure, and move forward with trying to eliminate their supply lines. We need to allow the Kurds and the Iraqi government and army to push back and reestablish and get some type of semblance of order.

You’ve said one of the main reasons you got into this U.S. Senate race was the Affordable Care Act and the effects thereof. You’ve proposed moving healthcare laws to the states, having state solutions, like what’s going on in Massachusetts.

Do you then also support full flexibility for states to be able to craft a health care solution? The federal health care law as it stands now, for example, bans insurance companies from denying people with preexisting conditions from being able to seek coverage. Would there be any federal caveats to those state solutions?  

We need to repeal Obamacare and we need to put in place something that works for us. Something that allows us to address all the things that you and others are concerned about. There’s no reason why we can’t do it and also respecting our rights and freedoms and also doing it more competitively. I look at the VA right now and look at Obamacare. The VA is Obamacare in a couple of years with the top heavy bureaucratic nightmare.

You ask any business right now – I challenge you guys to go out to businesses that I’ve visited and see how much more they’re paying, getting lesser coverage, higher deductibles, longer lines. We only have one insurance carrier in our state. Apparently more are coming after the election. Apparently the VA is going to be fixed after the election. Everything is after the election. These broken promises to our citizens is just wrong.

But under the plan you’re saying, a state could say "we’re not going to get involved with preexisting conditions."

I know what you’re trying to say but I respectfully disagree. It’s something that’s very important our state and its citizens and it’s something that more than likely would be covered in any type of plan that we offered.

We need competition. We don’t have any competition. All of those things that you’re talking about, we can have good, smart people like you at the table and others at the table to determine what’s important for us and that is one thing that is important to me. I’ve already voted on something like that. I would continue to support that and I’m sure it’s important for other people.

You’ve said that Washington needs to work together to create among other things a strong business environment, and you described yourself as an independent voice that the Senate needs. You’ve said when you represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate that you would often vote with Democrats and Republicans.

The facts are the facts. I was the most bipartisan Senator there.

But here in a Republican primary, are you saying to voters who often are more conservative that you would again vote in that way if you return to the U.S. Senate?

I’m an independent voter and thinker and I’ll give you an example. Right now, the Democrats are in charge in the Senate and the president is the president. But during that time in the United States Senate, I was able to pass the insider trading bill, which was an important piece of legislation that since I have left has been weakened.

I also helped with the “Hire a Hero” veterans bill, allowing our veterans to be employed and our employers to actually get an incentive to keep them and hire them. The crowd funding bill, the 3 percent withholding, the Arlington Cemetery bill.

I’m a problem solver. I’m definitely a check and balance to the president and his policies, unlike Senator Shaheen, who’s voting with him 99-plus percentage of the time. You need independent problem solvers down there right now.

You have called for more efforts to deal with border security between the U.S. and Mexico. You’ve also said "no amnesty." What do you do with the individuals that are already in the country?

As you know, we have a problem. I look at it in different pillars. The first pillar is if we have kids who are here from out of country and they’re going to school, they should get a diploma and the ability to stay here and live and work if they want. That’s a no brainer.

If we have people who need seasonal help because we have a service industry in our state, tourism, etc., and there’s needs to be filled, we should allow that to happen and it shouldn’t be caught up in the bureaucratic nightmares that are happening right now for those employers. If you’re looking at executives and other engineers, doctors, etc., and there’s a need and we can’t fill that need in order to keep our businesses vibrant and in our state, we should allow that to happen, no problem.

But the first thing we have to do in regard to our national security and dealing with the immigration problem is we need to secure our border once and for all. It’s not secured. Senator Shaheen has voted twice not to send troops down to the border, to offer in that security. She supports the DREAM Act, she supported those porous borders.

If you look at what we’re doing right now, the president, through his executive orders, is creating an additional class of people, expanding the definition of refugee, putting them ahead of the almost 4.6 million people that are following the laws, doing the right thing. There’s actually a disincentive now to continue to follow that law.

The president has sent out a message to the rest of that part of the world to just send your kids here and they’ll be fine and we’ll take care of them. What I have said and what I believe needs to be done is we should make sure those kids are safe and secure and then we need to get them back to their home country of origin.

If you look forward six years into the future, assuming that you win the nomination and win the general election, what do you point Granite Staters to six years from now to say "this is where Senator Scott Brown made a difference? This is where he had an impact?"

The same thing I’ve done in my entire public service efforts. It’s to be that independent, problem-solving, honest, hard-working, accessible, accountable public servant. Someone whose door was always open. You may not agree with him all the time, but at least he did what Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan used to do. They’d battle by day, but at night they’d grab a scotch and play some cards and figure it out, putting our country’s interests first, as Americans first.

I want to be known as that guy who was recognized to go down there as that independent voter and thinker and didn’t owe anybody anything.