Democrats Hope Scott Brown Has Moderate Streak

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Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown met Thursday with Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. Brown insisted he represented all voters, but can Democrats count on courting him as a Yankee Republican? They are betting Brown needs to build a moderate record for a re-election bid looming the year after next.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Senator-elect Scott Brown came to Washington today. He's the Massachusetts Republican who shattered the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority earlier this week. At the Capitol, Brown's new colleagues from both sides of the aisle welcomed him aboard, though its not clear when he'll be sworn in.

NPRs David Welna has the story from the Capitol.

DAVID WELNA: Scott Brown was the focus of a phalanx of news cameras as he strolled into the Russell Senate Office Building this morning.

Senator-elect SCOTT BROWN (Republican, Massachusetts): Thank you very much for you all coming. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Unidentified Man #1: Thank you.

WELNA: Brown did seem a tad awestruck as he made his way to the office of Arizona Republican John McCain. Once inside, he said it was McCain who last year looked him in the eye there, and encouraged him to seek the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for nearly half a century.

Senator-elect BROWN: And I wanted to pay him the first visit and thank him for that support.

WELNA: Asked by reporters whether hed be the kind of moderate Northeastern Republican who works with Democrats, Brown dodged the question.

Senator-elect BROWN: I want to get an office, get a business card and then, you know, look at the information and make a proper decision based on the facts.

WELNA: Next stop was the office of the senior senator from Massachusetts, Democrat John Kerry. A reporter there wanted to know whether Kerry had been shocked by Browns election.

Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Massachusetts): I hate to say this to my fellow Democrats, but I wasnt shocked.

Unidentified Man #2: Mr. Brown, Mr. Brown...

Unidentified Man #3: Why not?

Senator KERRY: Because I saw it coming.

WELNA: And Kerry did have a few words of advice for the junior Senator-elect from Massachusetts.

Senator KERRY: You have to work across the aisle here to make things happen. Americans dont just elect Democrats and Republicans; they elect people to be responsible with the peoples business. I look forward to working with Scott on that. Hell have his chance to vote for Massachusetts many times over the next few years. And that will define him, not me, not him here today.

WELNA: Brown, who faces a re-election bid the year after next, allowed that he just might work with Democrats on legislation.

Senator-elect BROWN: If I see a bill that is good for my state, Im going to vote for it, and thats my first priority. Other senators represent other states. My initial job is to protect the interest of Massachusetts. And Im not - I dont owe anybody anything.

WELNA: In a later meeting with Brown, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell bestowed a nickname on Brown that closely identified him with the soon-to-be 41-member, GOP caucus.

Senator MITCH MCCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky): When people asked for his autograph, he was writing 41 down. I said, this is a man who understands how the Senate operates. So, henceforth, I will always think of him as 41.

WELNA: Things were just as mirthful when Brown then stopped by to see Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada; Senate Majority Leader): I, of course, welcome you to the Capitol.

Senator-elect Brown: Thank you, Mr. Reid.

Sen. REID: I read an article in here today that because you got elected, my jobs going to be easier. I hope thats the case.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WELNA: Easier because Browns arrival means Reid is no longer expected to keep 60 senators voting together.

David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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