OTR Interviews

Scott Brown: Nation's most bipartisan senator in extremely partisan times?

Mass. senator discusses launching his reelection campaign, why he is a 'bridge-builder' in a divided Congress

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Two years ago he stunned all the political pundits. As a Republican he was elected to the United States Senate in Massachusetts. He was elected to the seat held by Senator Ted Kennedy for decades. Now in a climate of gridlock in Washington, Senator Brown said he prides himself on being bipartisan. This week he kicked off his campaign for his first full term. We spoke with Senator Brown yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: What is your sharpest difference with Elizabeth Warren, assuming that she will been your opponent in September?

SEN. SCOTT BROWN, R-MASS.: There are many clear differences. She's a self-proclaimed rock thrower who wants to leave blood and teeth on the floor. I'm a bridge builder and problem solver, as evidenced by my long history of working with people of good will on both sides of the aisle.

She's a very intelligent, hardworking academic. That being said, with that comes I think a little different way of looking at things. I want to look forward and pride opportunities for individuals and businesses, create that tax and regulatory certainty, and she wants to put more and more government interference in your lives and more regulation. I think people will have a very clear difference and I'm anxious to start to begin the campaign.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why are you voting against the anti-piracy act?

BROWN: Well, for that, listen, there are deep concerns obviously about the fact that people are, in fact, stealing our intellectual property and not paying the folks that actually have earned the right to be paid, number one.

On the other hand, you have to balance that with the rights and considerations and the free market and really the First Amendment and the use and growth of the Internet. So I'm looking forward to getting back to try to come up with a compromise.

VAN SUSTEREN: The lines are clearly drawn in the sand and people are very passionate on both sides. I mean, this would have been a good idea to come up with a solution prior to now.

BROWN: Sure. Well, listen, as you know, we've been on break for a period of time. And we only found out a week-and-a-half ago that in fact the majority leader was going to bring it up, the first we actually heard of it.

That being said, it's something that I've been working on for a couple of months trying to learn, meeting with the entities and businesses and individuals involved in the issues, trying to understand what and how we can move the bill forward.

As you know, the problem, because you are down there, you know the leader brings up a bill. He moves foreclosure, shuts off amendments, shuts off debates and rams it through. It's not going to pass. Is he going to do it for political theatre or actually try to solve a problem? That's what I'm anxious to get back and try to figure out if in fact that's what's going to happen.

VAN SUSTEREN: You say that -- you just described Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as having political theatre. Have you ever tried to sort of sit him down? That's a little bit of a bomb throw to the Senate majority leader. Do you ever try to work things out with him? Do you talk to him ever?

BROWN: Sure. I was the deciding vote in his first jobs bill, if you remember, the $19 million jobs Bill. There are a whole host of other things I worked on -- don't ask-don't tell -- that without my support they never would have seen the light of day so of course I speak to the leader. But everybody knows on both sides of the isle, even the jobs packages the president pushed, they were rejected in a bipartisan manner.

As a matter of fact the only two pieces that actually passed are my portions of the jobs bill, which is the three percent beholding and the higher a veterans will. So where we can work together we are going to do it. When he lets us move forward together as a Senate who is unified and allows us to work through our problems, we pass things 100 to nothing. But when he throws things up just for commercials in November, which he's been doing a lot lately, it's very frustrating and it's hurtful to our country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a fair criticism to both sides of the isle, that there are a lot of things done for political reasons and necessarily not for the big picture or the best of Americans? Has that been your observation the two years you have been here?

BROWN: Yes. Yes. More recently, obviously, because of the election cycle that's clicking and the president is in campaign mode. It seems both sides are also in campaign mode. When the Republicans held up the unemployment benefits and payroll tax deductions, you know, for really what I felt was for no good reason, I let them know that I thought it was disgusting.

The way that Harry and the majority leader and others are playing political theatre with a lot of the things that in fact if we actually had a chance to work on them, they would pass. But they want to score political points.

But I'm a hopeful guy, I've always have been. I will continue to work with the good Republicans and Democrats to form a coalition. As a matter of fact, we are going to take the best of the Republicans, the Democrats, and the president's bill and take them out, all the things we agree on, and push them forward in a new effort to try to get them passed. I think that's a good first move.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which Democratic senator is easiest for you to work with?

BROWN: Senator Carper is really wonderful. He's like an older brother. I'm the ranking member on FMM with him, which is a committee dealing with fraud, waste and abuse. You have the Udall cousins, Bennet from Colorado. On our side we've got Thune, Portman, Toomey, Rubio, just good people who are trying to do the right thing. And those are the folks I'm most close with and we continue to try to form coalitions to try to move our country forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your position on the Keystone pipeline?

BROWN: Listen, I think it's a no-brainer. We need to step back from our dependence of foreign oil. And Canada is going to develop that technology, and either we get it from Canada, who is one of our, if not the best trading partner in the region. I would rather develop that north-south relationship than the east-west relationship, because when we are paying money to entities countries that want to kill us, I don't think that's a good thing. Are we with going to pay for it as it comes over to China or is Canada going to send it to China and then we will have to pay for it indirectly?

Listen, we need to develop the jobs, number one. We have the technology to do it. And we need to try to develop our own energy plan so we can step back from our dependents of foreign oil, nuclear, geothermal, coal, citing, permitting, conservation, the whole range of it, and we are doing nothing, unfortunately.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the job fun or is it frustrating?

BROWN: You know, I tell you, Greta, talking to my wife, who is my really my guiding light in this situation, I was talking to her this morning and I would say 80 percent of it is really fun. Solving problems and dealing with situations because I've always been a problem solver. I've always been a hopeful person that believes in the greatness of our country. We live in the greatest country in the world.

That being said, I live in I think the greatest state in the country and because we are an invasion state and we do things a lot different I think than other parts of the country. So that being said, yes, 80 percent of it fun. The 20 percent, kind of the political theatre and the games they play when we are clearly in a financial emergency and clearly need to work together is exceedingly frustrating.

(END VIDEOTAPE)