MANCHESTER — Scott Brown tried to cement his support among women at a campaign event on Monday, while preparing to meet a potentially hostile group of gun owners tonight.
Brown, one of four candidates for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November, presented the Women for Brown leadership team at his campaign headquarters on Elm Street.
He addressed the 25 to 30 female supporters and campaign volunteers, and left without taking questions from reporters. His meeting tonight with the Gun Owners of New Hampshire is a members-only event, according to GONH President Mitch Kopacz, although Kopacz said on Monday that could change at the candidate’s request.
The Monday rally before an animated and supportive crowd kicked off with coalition leaders offering brief remarks highlighting their reasons for supporting Brown. They were each introduced by Lyndsay Robinson, student body president at St. Anselm College and an intern for Brown while he served as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
“School is expensive, and my classmates and I worried about taking out unaffordable student loans while Washington does nothing,” she said. “I know Scott Brown will work on bipartisan solutions to create more good-paying jobs for young people starting our careers.”
The Women for Brown leadership team includes former Merrimack State Rep. Maureen Mooney; former Rochester State Rep. Julie Brown; and Jane Lane, former President of the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women.
Brown highlighted his relationship with his mother, wife and two daughters in reaching out to the female audience. He was loudly applauded as he attacked Shaheen for her support of Obamacare, criticized the state of U.S. foreign policy, and bemoaned the partisan gridlock in Washington.
He denied having anything to do with the defeat of the bipartisan Shaheen-Portman energy bill last week, amid reports that he’d lobbied Republican senators to filibuster the popular measure so as to deny Shaheen a legislative victory.
“They’re blaming me,” he said. “I apparently derailed a bill in D.C. while I was driving around New Hampshire. I have these amazing powers I guess. That’s what happens when the system is broken. They try to find someone to blame.”
The candidate is not as likely to receive such a warm reception with the gun owners’ group tonight, in a meeting scheduled for 7 at the Concord Holiday Inn.
Rather than oppose any ban on high-powered guns, Brown has said the issue is best left to the states. He also broke with the NRA to oppose a bill that would allow gun owners with permits from their own states to carry concealed weapons across state lines, regardless of local and state restrictions.
“He’s coming into the lion’s den,” said Kopacz, who is urging decorum in his conversations with members and on the group’s website, where he wrote: “We insist members be polite and respectful when addressing any candidate who comes to speak at our monthly meetings.”
Brown’s three opponents in the Republican primary, former Sen. Bob Smith, former state Sen. Jim Rubens and political activist Karen Testerman, are all well-regarded by GONH, Kopacz said.
He emphasized that the group does not make political endorsements, but is only trying to inform its voting-age members with its A-to-F ratings for candidates.
“How we will rate him depends on what he says tomorrow,” Kopacz said on Monday. “He had some issues in Massachusetts, but he wasn’t our senator and we weren’t paying attention to him then, but we are now. His gun record does not look good, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t changed his mind.”firstname.lastname@example.org