WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Scott Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, took up a new post as ambassador to New Zealand two weeks ago, becoming one of the first ambassadors tapped by President Donald Trump to begin serving.
The Associated Press asked the high-profile Republican about the support he received from across the aisle, as well as his take on Trump's tweets and the Russia investigation. The interview has been edited.
Q: Why New Zealand?
Brown: Well, I had the choice of any country in the world, and this was my No. 1 choice. The main reason is because of what is happening in this part of the world. You can see what's happening with China and its expansionism; North Korea and its belligerence and its lobbing missiles and rockets all over the place; and obviously Five Eyes (the intelligence-sharing alliance between the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand); the fact that it's the most beautiful country and the people are supposedly — and I'm finding out are — the nicest people in the world.
Q: Were you surprised to get support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat, particularly given your contentious relationship in the past?
Brown: Well, it's politics. Politics in the United States is like a blood sport. It's really never personal. In Sen. Warren's case, our relationship has grown in a very positive way over the last nine to 12 months ... and quite frankly, she was instrumental in streamlining the process.
Q: Could you ever see yourself supporting Sen. Warren for a position? There's been talk of her running for president.
Brown: That's like saying, Are the Patriots going to win the Super Bowl again? You know, I don't know, and I'm going to just focus on my job here, but I wish her well in whatever she does and I plan on treating her with dignity and respect as I know she will with me, regardless of what happens.
We have a president right now, so I'm going to focus on making sure he is able to do his job for the next 3 1/2 years.
Q: Are President Trump's tweets, like the one mocking TV presenter Mika Brzezinski for "bleeding badly from a face-lift," lowering the tone of the presidency?
Brown: He's the president. He can communicate however he wants. Is it something I would do? Most likely not. But he feels that he has to stand up for something when he's wronged, and that's what he's going to do.
And quite frankly, I think that both sides need to kind of calm down in terms of the battling back and forth, because we're Americans first. I believe that we are all trying to do the right thing for our country. And has the media been giving him a fair go? I can tell you firsthand, absolutely not.
Q: What is your take on the Russia investigation, given the latest revelations about Donald Trump Jr.?
Brown: I've always said, and I've said publicly, that any of that stuff that deals with Russia or any type of conflict, there needs to be a light shone on it. And I know Sen. Warner, I know Sen. Burr, and I know that they're going to do their best to get everything out in the open, and I think that's a good thing. So let the chips fall where they may.
(Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina.)
Q: A recent survey by the Pew Research Center indicates President Trump has low approval ratings in countries around the world. Have you found any Trump supporters since you've been in New Zealand?
Brown: Absolutely, I've found a tremendous amount.
I don't really put a whole lot of stock in polls, because you never know. There's different ways to do polling now, a lot of folks don't have traditional phones. I just don't even bother to read them, quite frankly, because he's the president. Like it or not, he's the president. And if folks don't want our support, then they should let us know, because we are happy to support other countries who want our help.