Elizabeth Warren endorses Scott Brown for secretary of VA
Former Senator Scott Brown’s candidacy for the top veterans affairs post in Washington got an endorsement Thursday from an unexpected corner: his old campaign rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Warren, appearing on a Boston radio station, said she thought Brown, whom she unseated in 2012, would put his “heart and soul” into the job of veterans affairs secretary if tapped by President-elect Donald Trump.
“If Scott Brown is the nominee for veterans affairs, I have no doubt that he would put his heart and soul into trying to help veterans,” Warren told WGBH hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. “And I would put my heart and soul into trying to help him do that. You bet I’d support him for that.”
In an interview, Brown expressed gratitude for Warren’s support. “I think it was really nice,” he said. “I appreciate it, and I’ve always known that she cares a lot about veterans.”
Brown told the Globe last month that Trump had called him and told him “he’s making his highest recommendation to his committee that they consider me.”
Asked Thursday about his chances of getting the nod, Brown said, “Everything’s going along on the ordinary course. I know I’m being considered strongly.”
The note of support marked a decidedly different tone for Warren, who has been among Trump’s most persistent critics in the weeks since the presidential election. The first-term senator has aired many of the frustrations harbored by those on the left angry with Trump’s victory.
Warren and Brown have also not shared warm relations since their match four years ago. Warren campaigned against Brown in his unsuccessful 2014 bid against US Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, and Brown has often been critical of her.
And the two have kept up the sniping long after their electoral rivalry ended. At the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in March, Warren joked, “Donald Trump is floating Scott Brown as a running mate. It would be the perfect reality-show matchup: ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and ‘The Biggest Loser.’ ”
After Warren knocked him again at the state Democratic Party convention last summer, Brown told reporters, “It’s getting a little creepy, her obsession with me.”
Trump, of course, won the election, and received Brown’s endorsement shortly before the New Hampshire primary. Brown hosted Trump at a downtown fund-raiser in June, and Trump hosted Brown last week at Trump Tower, where the president-elect has been vetting potential appointments.
On Thursday, it appeared that the Warren-Brown rancor had cooled.
“My thanks to @SenWarren for her kind words,” Brown tweeted Thursday. “If [nominated] for SecVA, I will welcome her support, passion and help to serve our Vets,” he added, with a hashtag, “truce.”
And, he noted in an interview, “We’ve been trying to calm things down and mend our ways for a while now behind the scenes.”
Brown served in the Army National Guard for 35 years, retiring in 2014. His victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in the 2010 special election to fill the US Senate seat when Edward M. Kennedy died ranks as one of the most stunning upsets in recent political history.
Appearing on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio,” Warren also sounded a measure of support for another Republican with Massachusetts roots under consideration for a Trump Cabinet post: former governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in the running to be secretary of state.
“I’d like to hear more, but I think Mitt Romney is a smart man, and I think he’s got a pretty level-headed view of the world,” Warren said. “Can I just hold until we … can I get a chance to see the nominees and meet the nominees? But there’s a lot of good stuff to say about him.”
Warren has not held back about other Trump personnel picks. On Wednesday, she blasted Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin, as “the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis.”
“He managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street,” Warren said.
Her backing of Brown came the day after the Massachusetts Republican Party ripped her for her criticism of a $6.3 billion federal measure intended to boost medical innovation. Warren said the bill would “cover up bribery” and represent a giveaway to big pharmaceutical companies.
In a press release, state GOP chairwoman Kirsten Hughes said, “Senator Warren apparently thinks it’s fine to hold hostage funds for addiction treatment as long as it gets her in the spotlight, so it’s no surprise that even her allies find themselves exhausted by Warren’s obstructionism. She is so blinded by far-left ideology that she is incapable of working across the aisle on legislation as common sense and widely supported as funding public health priorities.”
Warren’s praise of Brown raised eyebrows among some who have watched what has been a consistently acrimonious relationship.
“I think it surprised a lot of people,” said Erin O’Brien, a political science professor at University of Massachusetts Boston.
“I think some of her support is born of some of the Cabinet picks [Trump has] been making. Scott Brown sounds a lot better to people who are serious about policy than, say, Sarah Palin,” O’Brien said, referring to the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee.
Palin is reportedly under consideration for the same post as Brown.
Others saw some political calculus in Warren’s support of a former rival.
“They were both popular at the end of the  campaign,” said Steve Koczela, president of the MassInc Polling Group. “Scott Brown had good favorables, even though he lost.”
Koczela added, “Sometimes I think we forget how popular he was. Even though he lost, he sort of went out on a high note in Massachusetts, and she probably recognizes that.”