Anyone still doubting that Scott Brown is a savvy politician?

Because if you are, today should put your doubts to rest.  Brown has taken what could have been a minor negative for his campaign – the first violation of the People’s Pledge, which came at his expense – and turned it into a substantial plus, all while actually doing some good.

Here’s what happened: as you may know, a PAC ran some pro-Brown online ads in violation of Brown’s and Warren’s “People’s Pledge” agreement against such ads.  Brown agreed that a violation had occurred (there was really no argument to the contrary), and said he would pay the penalty.  According to the agreement, the penalty is 50% of the cost of the ads, which apparently amounts to about $340, to be donated to a charity of the other party’s choosing.

Elizabeth Warren selected a good charity, namely, the Autism Consortium.  And today, Brown announced his compliance as follows:

Honoring the People’s Pledge w $1K check to Autism Consortium. I encourage my supporters to support this worthy cause. http://www.autismconsortium.org/take-action/donate/

Almost simultaneously, Brown released a new radio ad touting the People’s Pledge.  He probably takes a tad more credit for making the pledge a reality than he should (in actuality, most of the language to which the parties agreed came from Warren), but his facts are close enough that trying to call out the inaccuracies would risk coming across as whiny nitpicking – especially because, in the ad, he magnanimously praises Elizabeth Warren for signing on.

So look what Brown has done. He’s taken what could have been a minor embarrassment for his campaign and turned it into a positive in several ways. (1) He has donated more than twice as much money as was required to a charity that everyone likes (message: “I generously support charities that help kids”); (2) he has potentially generated even more income for that charity by expressly asking his supporters to donate (“I know that my supporters are good and generous people”); (3) he has shown the world that he’s serious about sticking to the People’s Pledge, even when it costs him money (“I’m a stand-up guy who keeps his word”); and (4) he has taken credit (again, perhaps a bit more than he should have) for keeping third-party ads out of the race in an ad that is difficult to counter (“My leadership on third-party ads is a model for the nation”). All for about $660 (his excess donation), plus the cost of his radio spot which is part of a series that is running anyway. Pretty good investment, I’d say.

So the big question with Brown is whether his policy or his politics will predominate. Overall, I’d say that Brown’s policy work has varied from middling (e.g., his “crowd funding” proposal, which is fine but which was proposed by President Obama months ago) to awful (Blunt amendment, Ryan and Medicare, filibustering his own jobs bill), but his politics have sometimes been quite smart, as they were today. Beating him will require getting voters to look behind clever political moves to what he’s actually been doing in the Senate. And that may not be easy.

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Discuss

16 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I'm prepared to say his

    campaign is doing well. I have some reservations about how much political maneuvering is his own idea, though to credit it to him generally is fair.

    I’m in reassessment mode.

  2. I always thought the "People's Pledge" was a bad idea

    I’m from the “if it’s not on message, it’s off it” school of thought, and I never saw how this helped Elizabeth Warren’s message… though it certainly does a lot to help Scott Brown’s.

    The thing is, it’s both undemocratic and will eventually be broken, probably when a group like Karl Rove’s Crossroads decides it’s close enough to the election that it won’t matter and dumps in millions practically overnight. Or some smallish lefty group ignores/doesn’t know about the rule, and then Karl Rove decides to dump in millions.

    The thing isn’t going to work and only benefits Scott Brown in the end, and while it may (or more likely, may not) prevent ‘big money’ from entering the race, it prevents the grassroots from engaging in the ways they’d want to engage. Some people feel more comfortable working through a MoveOn type organization than they do the campaigns themselves — and we should respect that as a country.

    RyansTake   @   Fri 9 Mar 3:06 PM
  3. Why do I hear SNL's Jon Lovitz doing his Liar skit when I listen to Brown's Ad?

    Scott Brown by all accounts had himself a pretty good week, the only kink was that a Super PAC called Coalition of Americans for Political Equality (CAPE) PAC based out of Washington DC, did some online advertising for short money on his behalf.

    Initially, Brown had played the incident fairly well making a statement that once they were aware of the PAC from a reporter’s question they immediately contacted CAPE PAC and asked that they suspend all activity. Elizabeth Warren for her part was low key about the Brown campaign being the first to break the pledge.

    Instead of leaving well enough alone, this is classic overreach, Brown put up a radio ad saying he proposed the People’s Pledge?

    Here’s Elizabeth Warren’s letter to Scott Brown:

    Dear Sen. Brown:

    We have the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the country. Let’s do it. If you are serious about stopping the political games and getting to the hard work of keeping out third party ads and independent groups, I’m ready. My campaign manager is prepared to meet with your representative to begin immediately to craft an enforceable agreement.

    Too often, candidates call for an end to third party influence but their words are just that, and their calls are just more empty promises and politics as usual. I propose that our agreement include television, radio and online advertisements from outside groups and third parties and further, that this agreement include consequences for the campaign that fails to honor this agreement.

    We should not waste any time. I will call you this afternoon to discuss the first steps.

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth Warren

    Prior to this letter the only thing Brown said was he’s limited his efforts to public statements.

    How does he get that he created to People’s Pledge when he said he was fine with public statements?

  4. Brown proposed the pledge

    The fact that the Warren team drafted some rewrites during the negotiations does not take away from Brown that he proposed the framework to keep 3rd party Ads out.

    I would also submit that there has been no violation of the pledge. A 3rd Party (not a party to the pledge) ran Ads that the pledge considered out of bounds. Scott honored the pledge (and then some) by making the donation.

    The only people who can violate the pledge are the people who signed it: Brown and Warren.

    • you can propose anything you want ... doesn't mean it has anything to do with facts.

      he just wanted to make public statements and play politics. Warren came back with creating the People’s Pledge, so now he wrote it? Really?

      • If team Warren is really responsible for the pledge.....

        then they got the political optics all wrong when it became the “People’s Pledge”. The tie in to Scott’s “People’s Seat” from the special election is perfect.

  5. He's Crafty

    He’s got Wall Street money.

    He’s got great advisers.

    He’s got everything except one important ingredient:

    Substance.

    Scott Brown is an empty suit.

  6. With Brown

    it is never the “what” but always the “why.”

    I’ll say it again, he will unleash a boat load of ads breaking the “people’s pledge” because he has the money to do it, leaving Warren to complain about how unfair it all is.

    Remember, this is a guy who filibustered his own bill.

  7. "He's for us?"

    That’s a slogan that invites response…

    Was Brown for us when he held Wall Street Reform hostage to water it down in favor of his corporate donors?

    Was Brown for us when he voted against extending unemployment benefits?

    Was Brown for us when he voted to allow employers to gut employees’ health care coverage based on ill-defined “moral conviction”?

    Empty suit is right!

    • To play devil's advocate for a sec,

      here is Team Brown’s possible responses to your points:

      I secured tax breaks that protect Massachusetts businesses that employ lots of people! And then I voted for Dodd-Frank! I’m for you!

      I made sure I didn’t vote for anything we can’t afford so that our grandkids aren’t still paying for what we do today! I voted for cloture even if I didn’t necessarily support the bill because I believe in fair debate and I’m against game-playing! And then when we got a responsible deal, I voted for it! I’m for you!

      I support your religious liberty under the First Amendment! The “moral conviction” argument is a red herring! I’m for you!

      • counter, extending tax cuts to the wealthy, oil company tax breaks

        Brown voted to extend bush tax cuts, oil company corporate breaks, without a way to pay for it. He has no problem that our kids and grandkids pay for oil company tax breaks that already rake in billions of dollars of profits. It’s an excuse to vote against good policy. If this is truly what he wanted then why not be the same? Does the oil industry rank higher than people who live day to day? is this his value system? if you look at his votes, it sure looks like it.

        • Bad month for Warren

          First the birth control amendment where she overplayed her hand and boxed herself in as a ‘womens candidate’ as unfair as that box it, to this where the peoples pledge will continue to hamstring her efforts. Does anyone else remember Welds’ pledge with Kerry that effectively tied Welds hands behind his back before he and Kerry both broke it when it looked like Weld might win and then the pledge became the issue instead of the campaign? This could easily go down that road. I would instead focus on jobs, the economy, and more jobs. Make ads showing each and every vote where Brown was against jobs and for the fat cats, show how Warren will be for jobs and against fat cats. I can’t emphasize that the only way to beat a populist candidate is to run an even more populist campaign. Just as the Whigs ‘out-Jacksoned the Jacksonians’ with Harrison in 1840 its time for Warren to do the same right now.

          • what is this "women's candidate" of which you speak?

            do you reside is MA, who’s saying that?

          • Balderdash

            I’m not sure where you get the idea that Elizabeth Warren “overplayed her hand”. I don’t see her as “boxed in”, do you?

            If anybody overplayed any hand, it was the right wing and its war on women. The response of all GOP candidates to Rush Limbaugh’s misogyny said, loud and clear, all that needs to be said. Scott Brown walked a long long way out onto a very thin limb with his support of the Blunt amendment. Rush Limbaugh sawed off that limb. The voters of Massachusetts, including the women voters of Massachusetts, are fully able to see the difference between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

            Elizabeth Warren is focused on “jobs, the economy, and more jobs”. It is Scott Brown who has wandered deep into right-wing la-la-land.

  8. Jconway, how would you have advised she handle the birth control amendment?

    She didn’t choose that issue, but of course as a candidate could expect to be asked about it. She said she was opposed to it as I believe we all hoped and expected. How is that overplaying her hand? Are you suggesting that a candidate who happens to be a woman can’t take a strong stance on a “women’s issue” (which I’m not at all convinced birth control is exclusively) lest she be labeled “the woman candidate”?

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