- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2010

When the handsome new student arrived on Thursday for a tour of his new school, fellow classmates swooned with delight, lining up to meet the mysterious cool kid and maybe, just maybe, win him over to their clique.

But the newcomer played it coy, running a hand through his perfect hair and flashing his Hollywood smile as he got his flirt on, clearly intent on playing the field for a bit.

“I understand there’s an interest in who I am and what makes me tick,” he said aloofly. But with a James Dean-like defiance, he added, “I don’t owe anybody anything.”

Sen.-elect Scott Brown won a special Senate election Tuesday in Massachusetts, giving Republicans 41 members in the Senate, just enough to thwart any legislation pushed by the majority Democrats. While he signed autographs Thursday at the Russell Senate Office Building with his new moniker - “41” - he also made it clear that he may, on occasion, be signing the number “60,” too.

“I’m a believer that people on both sides of the aisle want me to come here and they want me to be part of the process and part of the solution,” he said during a brief date with fellow maverick Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“The reception that I’ve received from the folks from the other side, the Democrats on the other side, in the delegation especially, has been extremely gratifying and made me feel special. And I really appreciate their efforts to reach out,” he said.

Mr. McCain, however, made clear that he expected the new kid to dance with the girl that brung him.

“Now that we have 41 votes, the president and the Democrats will seriously sit down with us rather than dictate to us,” he said.

But just to make sure, Mr. McCain heaped praised on the charismatic newbie, who isn’t yet a senator and who, as the once-obscure state senator joked repeatedly on Thursday, doesn’t have an office or even business cards.

“Senator Brown represents, I think, the dreams and the hopes and the frustrations that Americans feel today, and they want the kind of leadership that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts just sent us,” Mr. McCain said.

The maverick won chivalry points by escorting the rookie to his next class, past a throng of ogling reporters and photographers, lined up at times 10 deep. He handed the newcomer off to the senior senator from Massachusetts, who immediately tried to make amends to his new classmate for the mean things he’d said behind his new friend’s back.

“I don’t think anything I said was particularly harsh. Campaigns in Massachusetts are tough,” Democratic Sen. John Kerry said with a weak smile and a quick glance at Mr. Brown, who was grinning widely.

“Scott very successfully managed to tap into an anger and impatience that is very, very real,” Mr. Kerry said, shifting into full woo mode. Then, he delivered his best pick-up line: “I look forward to having a good, working, friendly relationship. I like him. As I said, I biked with his daughter.”

Mr. Brown was again noncommittal, keeping his options open, but did offer a bit of a tease.

“If I see a bill that is good for my state, I’m going to vote for it,” he said, adding he’s looking for “mentors to teach me.”

On his way to see the leader of the GOP clique known for their ability to say “no,” Mr. Brown stopped to talk with some real high school students from Kentucky, posing for a group picture. “We love you!” one girl gushed as he walked off.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, like, totally echoed the girl. “We are really, really happy to have him here,” he said, almost smiling. And he told the new student that he’s already cool enough to join Mr. McConnell’s club.

“When I saw that Senator Brown - when people asked for his autograph - was writing ‘41’ down, I thought, ‘This is a man who understands how the Senate operates.’ I will always think of him as ‘41,’ ” the Republican leader said ingratiatingly.

Mr. Brown had just four meetings scheduled for the short visit Thursday, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid didn’t want to be left out, so he hastily arranged a meet-and-greet.

The Democratic leader joked that he had read a news report that Mr. Brown’s election would make his own job easier.

“I hope that’s the case,” he said, offering the new kid an invitation to his clique.

But the new kid once again played it coy. “I appreciate the across-the-aisle gesture,” Mr. Brown said, implying that he really is across the aisle and may not be on the market after all.

“Well, we’re going to have an interesting time this year,” Mr. Reid said. Indeed. And at the first big dance, everyone will see just who will be Mr. Brown’s date.

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