He arrived in his signature outfit last Friday at the Mottolo Post in Revere – a Carhart jacket over a simple shirt and tie.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown was certainly in his element when he stood in the humble veterans post before a crowd of veterans and media members assembled to hear him discuss veteran’s issues and, perhaps, to log a few early policy points for the upcoming campaign season.
For the most part, Brown’s opponent – Elizabeth Warren – has come out fast and frequent in her campaign, with Brown taking his time to ramp up his efforts.
Last Friday, Brown made it clear that he wasn’t there on a campaign stop, but rather to speak about issues to the smattering of North Shore veterans that were gathered.
And that is exactly what he did, though one could certainly argue that simplifying the lives of veterans in the country and those returning from overseas might be a major point of his re-election campaign.
He said he was adamantly against newly proposed cuts to veteran’s healthcare program – which is called TRICARE.
“It’s really frustrating,” he said. “We should be looking at me and my staff, the judges, the administration and their staffs before we look at veterans. We should be affected first. Instead, they’re going after veterans first. That’s not right.”
His frustration with those newly proposed cuts from President Barack Obama’s administration came during opening remarks in which Brown reminded the intimate crowd gathered inside the veterans post that he is one of the most bi-partisan Senators in the nation; that he is willing to cross party lines to get things done.
“I’m the second most bi-partisan Senator in the nation,” he said. “I vote with my party 54 percent of the time. Don’t think we don’t want to get things done down there. There are Democrats and Republicans down there pushing our leadership to tackle the important issues. Don’t give up here quite yet. Give us a chance to continue to put pressure on our leaders.”
Afterward, Brown took questions from the audience, and appeared on the level, answering even the most detailed questions coming from actual veterans who were in the audience.
One concern raised by two veterans in the audience, one being Raymond Barry of the Chelsea Soldiers Home, was that many Vietnam Navy veterans are suffering from Agent Orange poisoning because they transported the chemical on ships to the battlefront. However, because they never had “boots on the ground” during he conflict, they don’t qualify for treatment claims.
“We only transported it, but people like myself that did transport Agent Orange are dying of cancer and prostate cancer and can’t get care,” he said. “I put a claim in for it three times and I was denied three times…It’s easier for me to get PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) claims than for this…I can’t do what I used to be able to do and I’m only 58.”
Others were riled up about the cuts to TRICARE, saying the government was backing out of an agreement long after the game was over.
And Brown stood right by them, expressing his outrage, telling stories about what he learned firsthand from the troops when fulfilling a National Guard training mission last summer in Afghanistan, and indicating that he wasn’t going to be a “social crusader,” but rather a “jobs crusader.”
By and large, he looked prepared, knowledgeable and a man with a fresh set of ideas somewhat outside of the typical Massachusetts political mantra. Mostly, he looked to be at the ready to do political battle with the Democrats and their candidate, Elizabeth Warren.