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Vieira to Scott Brown: You're Derailing Cause of Teddy's Lifetime

NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Wednesday's Today show, rained on Scott Brown's parade as she wondered if the Senator-Elect's post-victory call to Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki was an awkward moment since, as the Today co-anchor pressed, "You plan to do whatever you can to derail...the cause of his lifetime?"

MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know on a personal note, you said last night the first call you made after your victory was to Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki.

SCOTT BROWN: That's right.

VIEIRA: How comfortable was that for both of you, knowing that you plan to do whatever you can to derail what Ted Kennedy called, called "the cause of his lifetime," which is health care reform?

BROWN: Well first of all, you're misrepresenting. I never said I was gonna do everything I can to stop health care. I believe that everybody should have health care, it's just a question on how we do it. Do we do a one size fits all plan? Do we allow the states to actually get more involved and do what we did? The call to Mrs. Kennedy was, was very nice. Excuse me, I felt it was important to call her because I had known Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy for a while. I've worked with them for many, many years, and, and he was, as you know, a living legend, and had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed his, that especially about him as well as the constituent services that they, they do in Washington.

VIEIRA: You know during the campaign, you were referred to as 41, the reference being that if you were elected, you would be the 41st Republican in the Senate and put an end to the Democrats' supermajority, and you said that you'd like to be the decisive vote to block health care reform. So, is that number one on your agenda when you get to Washington?

BROWN: No. The first thing I'm gonna do when I get to Washington is go and meet everybody, both Democrat and Republican to-

VIEIRA: But once you get done with that.

BROWN: - establish that, that. Well, once I get done with that, whatever bill comes up, I'll look at it and make my own decision. But if it is the health care bill, we already have 98 percent of our people insured here already in Massachusetts. We do not need the plan that's being pushed upon us. We would have lesser care, longer lines and pay higher taxes and it makes no sense.

VIEIRA: You may not need it because you have, the people of Massachusetts are insured, but what about the people in the rest of the country?

BROWN: Well, I think we should allow the states to do what's important for their own states, have the federal government incentivize those individual states. And while I believe everybody should have insurance, I initially have to look out for our state. And when we're already gonna be paying higher fees with, with our plan and then have, pay higher fees for a plan that doesn't work at all for us, I think we can do better.

 

The following is the full interview with Brown as it was aired on the January 20 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Senator-Elect Scott Brown is with us for an exclusive interview. Senator-Elect Brown, good morning and congratulations to you.

SCOTT BROWN: Good morning. I'm glad to be here.

VIEIRA: You know, a lot of political pundits this morning are gonna be falling all over each other trying to figure out how it is a Republican took Ted Kennedy's seat, even though you have said repeatedly that it is the people's seat, but since you're the one who did it, let me ask you - do you think that your victory was a result of missteps by your opponent or did you tap into something that the Democrats didn't get about the voters?

BROWN: Well, I don't really think about what she did, I just focus on what I did, and that is to just talk about the issues. You know, terror and taxes and, and the health care plan. There were was, there was so many things at play here in Massachusetts. I don't think it was anything that she did, but we worked very, very hard and, and went after every single vote.

VIEIRA: But why do you think the voters responded to you as much as they did?

BROWN: Well I traveled throughout the state, while they were in the middle of their primary. I went door-to-door. I went out to the Berkshires in central Massachusetts and made sure that we could really get every single vote, and people enjoyed the message. Because when you're talking about a health care plan that's not good for our state versus a one size fits all plan with, you're gonna cut half a trillion from Medicare, affect Tricare and raise taxes. People are hurting right now and they thought we could do better.

VIEIRA: You know during the campaign, you were referred to as 41, the reference being that if you were elected, you would be the 41st Republican in the Senate and put an end to the Democrats' supermajority, and you said that you'd like to be the decisive vote to block health care reform. So, is that number one on your agenda when you get to Washington?

BROWN: No. The first thing I'm gonna do when I get to Washington is go and meet everybody, both Democrat and Republican to-

VIEIRA: But once you get done with that.

BROWN: - establish that, that. Well, once I get done with that, whatever bill comes up, I'll look at it and make my own decision. But if it is the health care bill, we already have 98 percent of our people insured here already in Massachusetts. We do not need the plan that's being pushed upon us. We would have lesser care, longer lines and pay higher taxes and it makes no sense.

VIEIRA: You may not need it because you have, the people of Massachusetts are insured, but what about the people in the rest of the country?

BROWN: Well, I think we should allow the states to do what's important for their own states, have the federal government incentivize those individual states. And while I believe everybody should have insurance, I initially have to look out for our state. And when we're already gonna be paying higher fees with, with our plan and then have, pay higher fees for a plan that doesn't work at all for us, I think we can do better.

VIEIRA: You know there's been some discussion the Senate could vote on health care before the, before you are certified. Do you feel they have an obligation to wait until you are in the Senate to take up the issue again?

BROWN: Well, well I'm obviously, that's up to the leadership in the Senate. I think, though, if they use some political chicanery and they do it without having to go back and forth with proper votes, I think come in the midterm elections, people will be very, very concerned and they'll remember.

VIEIRA: You know on a personal note, you said last night the first call you made after your victory was to Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki.

BROWN: That's right.

VIEIRA: How comfortable was that for both of you, knowing that you plan to do whatever you can to derail what Ted Kennedy called, called "the cause of his lifetime," which is health care reform?

BROWN: Well first of all, you're misrepresenting. I never said I was gonna do everything I can to stop health care. I believe that everybody should have health care, it's just a question on how we do it. Do we do a one size fits all plan? Do we allow the states to actually get more involved and do what we did? The call to Mrs. Kennedy was, was very nice. Excuse me, I felt it was important to call her because I had known Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy for a while. I've worked with them for many, many years, and, and he was, as you know, a living legend, and had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed his, that especially about him as well as the constituent services that they, they do in Washington.

VIEIRA: Senator-Elect, let me ask you, you are a Republican, but during the campaign, you referred to yourself as "a Scott Brown Republican." What does that mean?

BROWN: Right. Well, it means somebody who's always been accountable and attentive and independent thinker and voter and looking at every single issue for, on its merits, whether it's a good Democrat idea or a good Republican idea. And I've been doing this - I've been in, what? 19 years from an assessor, selectman, state rep, state senator, taking over 6,000 votes. That coupled with my military record, being 30 years in a lieutenant colonel, I'm a different kind of Republican. And I've always just wanted to go down and solve the problem, regardless of party. And while they're in Washington talking about what someone said in a book and what this happened - we need, we have some very serious problems when it comes to over-taxation, overspending and al Qaeda, who are trying to kill us. So we need to get back to the basics and start solving problems that affect every person in this, in this country.

VIEIRA: You know, bigger picture here. Some have said that this is a referendum on the President himself, this election. Do you agree with that? Do you think it is?

BROWN: No. It's bigger than that. It really, for, for us in our area, we have three speakers that were indicted, three senators that have resigned in disgrace, we have out-of-control taxation and spending in Massachusetts. You couple that with what's being proposed nationally, people are angry. They're tired of the backroom deals. They want transparency, they want good government, they want fairness and they want people to start working and solving their problems.

VIEIRA: Talking about people being angry, before I let you go, last night during your victory speech, at one point you introduced your daughters and you said one of them was available and the other was not, and there was a moment where the girls kind of cringed and your wife gave you a look. And you know I'm the mother of teenagers myself, so I know the drill here. What kind of grief did you get when you went home?

BROWN: Well, we all have a sense of humor. You have to have a sense of humor in politics and we're a very close family. We kid all the time about, you know, when the boys come in, I'm gonna get to know them very, very well. So, it was fun. My youngest, obviously, has a great relationship, and Ayla, you know, they're young women, they're in college, you know it was fun. We, we laughed a lot about it.

VIEIRA: Alright Senator-Elect Scott Brown, thank you so much for your time, and again, congratulations and good luck in Washington.

BROWN: Well, thank you very much. I'm honored to be on. Thank you.

VIEIRA: Thank you.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.