Scott Brown has a growing Obama problem that threatens to derail his campaign. It’s a problem of his own making, but he is caught between a rock and a hard place.
As he tries to make the case to Massachusetts voters of how bipartisan he is, touting his pride in working with President Obama, he is at the same time promising to his corporate special interest and anti-Obama donors, as well as right-wing Republican base groups, that he will be their champion, especially in an Obama second term. As a result, Brown is in the position of constantly having to run both hot and cold on Obama. He will simultaneously do anything to hug the President publicly even while dissing him more quietly to his Republican supporters.
This week, Brown put out a radio ad talking about his work with the President. He talks about how proud he was to work with Obama and how important cooperation is. “We need to work together now,” Brown says. Last month he flew to D.C. twice in one week to be at signing ceremonies at Obama's side, after begging and prodding to be invited. Brown also staked out his seat on the aisle at the State of the Union hours in advance to make sure he could be seen on TV with Obama.
Obama is very popular in Massachusetts, and Brown couldn’t be any clearer about how much of a drag he thinks his very close personal friend Mitt Romney is on the ticket. It’s pretty difficult in a Presidential Election year to run with the opposite party’s candidate while running away from your own party’s standard bearer—especially when that standard bearer happens to be your longtime friend and political mentor. In fact, Brown is facing a terrible dilemma: spending so much time trying to associate with Obama, while continuing to trash him in fundraising appeals, creates a very big problem for him. Add to that the fact that Obama and Warren are actually close allies, and Brown is in a bind.
We were reminded of this again when Warren released a new television ad with Obama as well—in this case, Obama touting Elizabeth Warren's consumer advocacy and work setting up the CFPB from the White House. Obama is a big supporter of Warren’s, and his enthusiasm for her campaign is going to keep creating problems for Brown.
Brown should be careful what he wishes for. He might think Obama’s role in the race is a good thing, but adding credibility to the President is a dangerous game to play when the President is dead set against your re-election—and when you have to keep attacking Obama when raising money and talking to your right-wing friends.