TAMPA - Senator Scott Brown today came to the defense of a Martha’s Vineyard cabbie who got in a scuffle - while he drove Democrat Elizabeth Warren - with a campaign videographer from the Massachusetts Republican Party, appealing to Oak Bluffs selectmen not to revoke his hackney license.
The effort came after a week in which some Brown aides but particularly the state GOP itself pushed video of the incident, alleging it was emblematic of Warren campaign bullying and intolerance.
“I do not think that taking away this man’s livelihood is the appropriate response to what occurred. We are in tough economic times,” Brown wrote in a letter his staff hand-delivered to reporters waiting his arrival in the headquarters hotel of the Republican National Convention.
Warren told reporters: “I didn’t see any part of it. ... I’m sorry that it occurred. It’s an unfortunate incident, but this cab this driver should not lose his livelihood over this.”
The driver, 36-year-old Morgan Reitzas, said he had his four-year-old daughter in the cab and didn’t want her photographed as he drove Warren on the island on Sunday. There was at least one similar incident earlier this year in which a Warren tracker was roughed up.
“As a public figure, I encounter ‘trackers’ daily,” Brown wrote. “Their constant presence is part of the political process, and candidates and their staff need to respect their right to participate in that process. When candidates bring in outside help, they need to make a good faith effort to make sure those individuals do not overreact to people who are just doing their jobs. In this instance, it is clear Mr. Reitzas was not educated about the dos and don’ts of the campaign trail.”
Brown’s own press secretary, Alleigh Marre, tweeted about the incident earlier this week.
“Desperation growing at the @elizabethforma camp...staff taking swings at GOP cameraman,” Marre’s Twitter account said at 11:40 a.m. on Monday.
Speaking with reporters today as he arrived at the Republican National Convention, Brown denied being disingenuous with his appeal.
“I wasn’t promoting any image,” he said. “I only learned about it after seeing it. You’d have to speak to the state party as to what they did. But I know this guy is caught up in this new part of the political process. He got caught off guard, he reacted, made a mistake. Listen, I make mistakes; he made a mistake. He seems like a regular guy trying to make a living. He shouldn’t lose his job for something like this, or his license. So I just thought it was appropriate. And when I heard the board was thinking of taking away his license, I said, ‘That’s not right.’ So I sent a letter. And I hope it helps.”Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.