Scott Brown Goes From Relative Unknown To Senator From Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown, who heads to Washington Thursday, is asking the Senate to seat him before his election results are certified. Boston University professor Tom Whalen says Brown is a kind of pragmatist who continues to mean different things to different voters.

From Relative Unknown To Senator From Mass.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block in Washington.


And from California, I'm Madeleine Brand.

One day after his upset win, Senator-elect Scott Brown is coming to Washington from Massachusetts. The Republican is asking the Senate to seat him as soon as possible, even before his election results are certified. He is a relatively unknown politician.

NPR's Tovia Smith has more on him and Scott Brown's plans from Washington.

TOVIA SMITH: Yesterday, Scott Brown was one of just five marginalized Republicans in the Massachusetts State Senate on a somewhat quixotic quest for the national stage. Today, he's not only on that stage, but he's got a starring role as GOP vote number 41 who could derail the president of the United States from advancing any of his agenda, and he may not stop there.

Unidentified Man: Do you think you're presidential timber?

SMITH: That was one of the questions Brown got today from a slew of national reporters in Boston.

Senator-elect SCOTT BROWN (Republican, Massachusetts): Listen, I don't want to be disrespectful, but I haven't even been down to Washington yet.

SMITH: Brown repeatedly made a point today of trying to step away from politics to focus on governance. He struck a much more tempered tone, dropping his hoarse campaign promises to be the 41st vote against the president's plan to overhaul health care and underscoring instead how he voted for a health care mandate in Massachusetts and how not all of the president's plan is bad.

Sen.-elect BROWN: I think that, first of all, just so we're past campaign mode, I think it's important for everyone to get some form of health care. And to just be the 41st senator and bring it back to the drawing board, there were some very good things, as you just pointed out, in the national plan that's being proposed.

SMITH: Brown also struck a conciliatory tone, promising that in D.C. he would represent the Independents who propelled him to victory and would work across the aisle as he's had to do in Massachusetts.

Sen.-elect BROWN: Maybe there's a new breed of Republican coming to Washington. You know, I've always been that way. I always - I mean, you remember, I supported clean elections. I'm a self-imposed term limits person. I believe very, very strongly that we are there to serve the people.

SMITH: The fact that he's somewhat hard to label may have worked in Brown's favor at the polls. He's a charismatic and polished candidate with a wife who's a TV reporter and a daughter who was on "American Idol." But his campaign is an earnest, straight-talking everyman in a pickup truck. He's a former model who once posed nude for Cosmopolitan, but talks more about growing up in a broken home with a mom on welfare.

He's against gay marriage. He stands with business and gun owners, but he supports abortion rights, to an extent, and earns high marks from environmentalists.

Boston University Professor Tom Whalen says Brown is a kind of pragmatist who continues to mean different things to different voters.

Professor TOM WHALEN (Social Sciences, Boston University): I think that's part of his appeal. I mean, people look at him and see who they want to see. And, you know, that puts him more in line with President Obama, I think.

SMITH: It's one reason some experts caution against looking at Brown's victory as a referendum on the president or his plans for health care.

Mr. SCOTT RASMUSSEN (President, Rasmussen Reports): The reality is much more complex than that.

SMITH: Scott Rasmussen polled 1,000 voters last night and he says Brown's win has as much to do with a host of other things, from the economy, to national security, to his opponent's shortcomings.

Mr. RASMUSSEN: It's absolutely an overstatement to say that it's all health care or all Obama. They were contributing factors. I think it's more of a perfect storm.

SMITH: Republican candidates around the country are less eager to paint this as simply a Massachusetts phenomenon. They would rather take a page from Brown's victory playbook and use it for themselves as they plot their own races in November.

Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

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