MASHPEE — Former senator Scott Brown on Thursday lamented the Massachusetts Republican Party’s splintering over ideological disagreements, calling for a “big-tent party” that welcomes the full philosophical spectrum.
“What the heck is a real Republican? Can you tell me that? Is there a litmus test? Did I miss that class?” Brown asked rhetorically during remarks at the Willowbend Country Club.
Brown, who rocketed into the national spotlight with a 2010 upset victory before losing his seat last year to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, blamed the GOP’s inability to hang together and the Democrats’ sophisticated turnout operation for his ouster from the Senate.
Democrats, Brown said, “went into a lot of the cities, Lynn, Lawrence — which had unusually high voter turnout, which is surprising, but it’s not — and said, ‘Get on the bus, there you go, get on the bus.’ ”
In a question-and-answer session with more than 100 people, Brown said he had also been taken aback that women’s issues played such a prominent role in his campaign.
Warren worked during the race to tie Brown to conservative national Republicans who spoke against abortion rights.
Noting that he had lost Massachusetts by 8 percentage points while former governor Mitt Romney lost the state by 23 points, Brown said he wished Romney had been “more active in the state.” And he expressed regret that his campaign’s efforts to depict Warren as dishonest in describing her heritage had not proved more effective. “I was a little surprised that people didn’t take into consideration her character flaws more,” he said.
The Wrentham Republican spoke on friendly turf. He carried the Cape in 2010, winning all municipalities except the four lowermost on the Cape. In 2012, he ceded three towns to Warren.
In discursive remarks that avoided any concrete indication of his future political plans, Brown repeatedly criticized Washington for its “paralyzing” dysfunction, and said he had worked in bipartisan fashion with departed fellow senators such as Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, and Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat.
Taking a question from Boston public relations executive George Regan, whose firm helped organize the event, about the drawbacks to running for governor, Brown said, “As you’re running for political office, you know when it’s time, you know when it’s right. And I don’t know when that time is going to be.”
Brown told reporters he intended to make public his plans for next year’s governor’s race “in the fall, at some point.” He said he “absolutely” expected 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charles D. Baker to run again.
“We’ll get together and try and work things out, one way or the other,” Brown said.
Brown repeatedly returned to the notion of expanding the state party’s appeal by presenting a more welcoming image. Gabriel E. Gomez, he said, had been unfairly tagged as insufficiently conservative by some in the party, which, he said, must embrace conservative, moderate, and liberal Republicans.
Now a Fox News contributor, Brown showed some storytelling flair, adopting an Austrian accent to describe Arnold Schwarzenegger, and aping Vice President Joe Biden’s voice in recounting a tour of the White House.
He and Biden, Brown said, had wagered a case of Bud Light on a 2010 Senate vote on a nuclear arms control treaty. Brown, based on what he said was superior legislative intelligence, won the bet.