- Associated Press - Sunday, May 20, 2012

BOSTON — Massachusetts Republicans Mitt Romney and Scott P. Brown have a history of supporting each other throughout their political careers.

But with each facing a tough election, neither the presidential candidate nor the U.S. senator is playing up that history, perhaps with good reason.

Mr. Brown, trying to win re-election in one of the most Democratic states, spends much of his time promoting his bipartisan bona fides and describing himself as a “Scott Brown Republican” rather than a conservative or liberal Republican.

He may be one of the few Republicans running who boasts of working with President Obama to pass bills. On his campaign website, Mr. Brown has posted pictures and videos of him with the Democratic incumbent.

Mr. Romney has moved increasingly to the right, shedding some of the more moderate positions he held as Massachusetts governor as he worked to rally GOP activists during the primaries.

As Mr. Brown took a more moderate stance, he alienated some of the conservative and tea party activists who helped elect him in 2010. Those are the same people Mr. Romney will need if he hopes to win in November. Mr. Brown’s shift to the middle could make him a liability for Mr. Romney among conservatives.

Mr. Brown probably will continue to play down his ties to his former governor and emphasize his own independent streak, particularly with recent polls showing Mr. Obama enjoying a double-digit lead in Massachusetts.

Brown sees pretty clearly that there are no Romney coattails in Massachusetts for him to ride and, indeed, being close to Romney for his own re-election bid could be a liability,” said Paul Watanabe, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts.

The distance between the candidates is more than strategic. Mr. Romney and Mr. Brown have adopted competing views on several big issues, from a new nuclear weapons treaty with Russia to the fate of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Mr. Romney has said Roe v. Wade should be reversed. Mr. Brown says a woman should have the right to an abortion, although he opposes federal money for the procedure. Mr. Brown voted for the new START treaty with Russia, saying it was important for national security. Mr. Romney said the treaty was Mr. Obama’s “worst foreign policy mistake.”

When pressed on the differences of opinion, Mr. Brown’s campaign repeats his endorsement of Mr. Romney.

Sen. Brown thinks Mitt Romney is a good and decent person who is devoted to his family and strong on jobs and the economy and that’s why he supports him for president,” Brown spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement.

Democrats, meanwhile, are busy trying to make voters aware of the ties between Mr. Romney and Mr. Brown, especially in Massachusetts, where Mr. Brown faces a tough fight against likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

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