Monday, February 1, 2010

Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts said Sunday he will be a reliable vote against excessive spending and higher taxes, but added that he would join Democrats in defending the right of women to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy.

The man nicknamed “41” after he won a special election Jan. 19 that deprived Senate Democrats of their 60-vote supermajority said he opposes partial-birth abortion and federal funding for abortions, but does not support the repeal of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision.

“Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, but I think we need to do more to reduce the amount of abortions,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I feel this issue is best handled between a woman and her doctor and her family.”

He also appeared to reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, saying, “I believe that states should have the ability to determine their own destiny and the government should not be interfering with individual states’ rights on issues that they deal with on a daily basis.”

Mr. Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, declined to take a stand on President Obama’s call to repeal the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on gays in the military. He said he would “wait to speak to the generals on the ground” before making up his mind about whether “the social change is not going to disrupt our ability to finish the job and complete the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Still, Mr. Brown, who won the Senate seat long held by the late liberal Democrat Edward M. Kennedy, said he would side with Republicans often, especially on tax and spend issues.

“Make no mistake. I am a fiscal conservative. And when it comes to issues affecting people’s pockets and pocketbooks and wallets, I’ll be with the Republicans if they are, in fact, pushing those initiatives,” he said.

Asked whether he felt pressure to vote with Republicans on every issue, he said “everyone really is the 41st senator. And what it means is that, now, there will be full and fair debate, and there will be no more closed - behind-closed-doors sessions.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, appearing on another Sunday talk show, said he understands Mr. Brown will not always vote with the party.

“He is going to be an independent voice for Massachusetts. We expect that. You know, Republicans from the Northeast are not exactly like Republicans from the South or the West. We understand that,” he said.

“We have a big-tent party. And we’re thrilled to have him. And I know that he will be an aggressive advocate for the people of Massachusetts, and support us - the rest of us, when he thinks it’s appropriate,” Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. Brown offered some insight into he might vote once he is seated, expected to around Feb. 11. He praised Mr. Obama’s proposal to freeze discretionary spending and said that he plans to support the president’s jobs package. He also said he would have voted for a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

The telegenic senator-elect dismissed as “silly” talk that he might run for president in 2012, saying, “I don’t even have a business card. I haven’t even been sworn in. I don’t have any exploratory committees started. I don’t have anything.”

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