Article By: Jeff Fish
While the candidates for the Democratic primary have garnered much attention recently, whoever wins on Dec. 8 will most likely have to face Republican front runner Mass. State Senator Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Brown visited Suffolk Monday night in an event hosted by the Suffolk GOP.
The relatively small room on the fourth floor of Donahue was only filled with a handful of students who asked Brown questions after a brief opening statement. Each seat had campaign literature and bumper stickers, which Brown asked guests not to take if they were just going to throw them away because his campaign is on a tight budget compared to his Democratic opponents.
“It was decent,” said Suffolk GOP President Karl Hoffman. “[The number of attendees] were not the numbers we were necessarily looking for. It’s a tough time [to hold the event]. A lot of people forgot because of Thanksgiving break.”
Brown began by discussing domestic issues like the health care bill that is currently being debated in the Senate.
“[The Health Care Bill] is not good for Massachusetts or Massachusetts Businesses,” said Brown, who said that the Mass. health care system, which was enacted in 2006, is a good plan and “we shouldn’t get rid of our plan for a one-size-fits-all plan throughout the country.”
Brown said that the health plan has lessened the burden to the state and insured 98 percent of Mass. residents. He thinks that if different states want to adopt a similar plan he would be willing to help and would not be opposed to Federal aid to those states. “I believe that everyone should have health care. It’s just the manner of how we get there.”
Brown then talked about the economy and the need to “streamline the red tape and enforce regulations” on Wall St. “Barney Frank and Chris Dodd said ‘no’ to Bush,” when he told them to enforce the regulations. Brown said that this contributes to the current state of the economy.
While speaking about the economy, Brown mentioned the amount of U.S. debt owned by China. “Every time we sneeze we need to check with China to see if we can wipe our noses.”
“I have a history as an independent thinker, leader and voter,” said Brown before he opened himself up to questions.
The first question concerned the trial in New York of alleged terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed. “I think it’s the worst mistake we’ve ever made,” said Brown. “It sets a precedent for military prisoners. He’s an enemy combatant and he should get a military tribunal like every [other military combatant].”
Brown was also asked why he supports charter schools when they take money away from public schools.
“A charter school is a public school,” said Brown, citing that they are funded by pubic money. “I believe in choices and there are schools [in Mass.] that are failing. Quite frankly, competition is good. It’s good for education. It’s good for business.” Brown acknowledged that there may be some school closures because of their failing standards or the economy and stressed that charter schools were necessary for students in failing school systems.
Brown was asked about his position on the troop surge in Afghanistan in light of the speech that President Obama would give the next night.
“We need to win this one. People seem to forget 9/11,” said Brown, who supports the troop surge and gave Obama credit for relying on the generals on the ground. He talked about the importance of freedom in the area, particularly women’s rights. He described the Afghan society as “a society so controlled that it’s probably not worth living over there for a lot of people.” Brown pointed out that the candidates on the Democratic side “disagree with the President.”
Brown also expressed concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, stating that it “makes no sense that Iran would want nuclear energy,” because they already have vast amounts of oil in their country. Brown suggested that strict sanctions on Iran be implemented and that Russia and the European Union will have to “jump in.”
When asked about the Patriot Act, Brown said that it needed to be “tweaked,” but said he was in support of it, referring to the incident of the Sudbury man who planned to shoot people at shopping malls. “That would not have been stopped if not for the Patriot Act.” He also said that there needs to be more communication between government agencies. According to Brown, all of the agencies had information that 9/11 would happen, but it slipped through the cracks because of lack of communication.
Brown spoke for roughly 20 minutes before he had to leave for a radio appearance on WBZ.
“It’s good to see that both sides can come to a campus and get their views across,” said SGA President Brian LeFort, referring to the Democratic Senate debate that took place at Suffolk earlier on Monday. “I have to give credit to the Suffolk GOP. It’s not easy to get a candidate, especially the front runner.”
Although Brown is the presumptive Republican nominee, he will face Jack E. Robinson on the Dec. 8 primary.