The Washington Times - February 22, 2011, 03:31PM

Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, an original tea party darling who has broken at times with the conservative movement since winning a special election last year, further distanced himself from the tea party Tuesday by saying “I’m not a social crusader.”

“I’m a Republican, period, from Massachusetts,” Mr. Brown said in an interview on MSNBC.

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Mr. Brown said that while he has “a lot of respect” for the movement, “I’m not a social crusader. I’m going to keep an open mind on each and every issue.”

The moderate Republican faces a tough re-election battle in 2012 that may include a primary challenge from a tea party-backed challenger. But he said if Massachusetts voters are looking for a partisan ideologue, “I’m not it.”

“You need people like me and others who are willing to work together on a bipartisan, bicameral basis with the president to push our country forward, so we can compete on a global basis,” the freshman senator said.