Rep. Herb Richardson, left, of Lancaster welcomed former U. S. Senator Scott Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, a longtime TV reporter for ABC-affiliates, to his home on Sunday afternoon in Lancaster's Page Hill Mobile Home Park Cooperative. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
March 19, 2014LANCASTER — Former U.S. Senator Scott Brown, a Republican of Massachusetts, who won the seat formerly occupied by the late U.S. Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy in a special election and is now seriously considering a run against Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, visited the home of Rep. Herb Richardson, a Republican of Lancaster, and his wife Rita on Saturday afternoon.
Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, formerly a TV reporter, headed north after the 2014 Northeast Republican Leadership Conference ended in Nashua and spent Saturday night at the Town and Country Motor Inn in Shelburne.
Brown, who officially became a resident of Rye in Dec. 2013, announced on Friday that he had launched an exploratory committee for a Senate run in the Granite State and he has now begun a listening tour that he's named "Main Streets & Living Rooms."
Lancaster selectman Leo Enos and former state Rep. John Tholl of Whitefield, who recently declared his candidacy, were on hand to meet Brown and Huff at the Richardson's First Street home in the Page Hill Motor Home Park Cooperative.
The top issues that Brown believes differentiates the Republican Party from the Democratic Party are its deep concerns about the skyrocketing national debt and deficit spending, the lack of jobs, and Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) that, he says, is crushing job creation.
When the precursor to Obamacare was drafted and then passed by an overwhelming margin when he was in the Bay State's Legislature, it was the result of an intense collaborative effort that involved the governor (Mitt Romney), legislators, doctors and hospitals, and numerous stakeholders, Brown explained.
"It was not a one-size-fits-all plan, dependent on executive orders," he explained. "Nor did legislators vote for it without reading it!"
He characterized Obamacare as a "monstrosity" that's hurting the middle class.
Richardson and his wife pointed out, however, that Obamacare has been a financial lifesaver for them.
Richardson was injured on the job and was forced to live on his workers' comp payments for an extended period of time, which ultimately cost the couple their house on Williams Street. The couple had to pay $1,100 a month if they wanted to maintain their health insurance coverage under the federal COBRA law.
Richardson said he only received some $2,000 a month in workers' comp. payments, however, leaving little for them to live on.
"Thank God for Obamacare!" his wife exclaimed.
Now, thanks to the subsidy for which they qualify, the Richardsons only pay $136 a month for health insurance that covers them both.
Rita Richardson also asked Brown to look into making it possible for stay-at-home spouses who work only sporadically at non-career jobs to go on Medicare when their breadwinner spouse reaches age 65. Brown said he would ask Sen. Kelly Ayotte about this problem, since he had not heard of this issue.
Brown handed out and signed copies of his autobiography, "Against All Odds: My life of hardship, fast breaks, and second chances," that tells his compelling rags-to-riches story of success, that includes Bay State voters electing him on Jan. 19, 2010, to fill the term of the late Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, a Democrat.
He explained that dictating his own story into a tape-recorder had helped him "unlock the closet at the back of my head" where he had stored details of his troubled childhood, including both abuse and poverty. Brown said that the book had proved cathartic both for him and many readers who've written him letters of thanks.
Brown, Tholl and Richardson agreed that it was only right that Americans, whom they described as "both philanthropic and big-hearted," provide a safety net for those who are need public assistance.
"Public assistance must be provided thoughtfully and judiciously," Brown said. Some in the room advocated that photo IDs be required on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards that have taken the place of food stamps to reduce fraud, and Brown said he believes that showing photos IDs at polling places on elections should be mandatory.
"I'm a fiscal conservative and almost a libertarian on social issues; I want the government out of my bedroom and out of my wallet," Brown had said at an earlier stop at the Northland Dairy Bar in Berlin. "There are good people on both sides of issues. We should be able to have a meal or a beer with those with whom we disagree; there's no need to vilify or crucify those on the other side of the aisle."
If Brown does decide to officially enter the race in the next two or three weeks, he will face a spirited primary in September. If he wins, he would go toe-to-toe with Shaheen on Nov. 4.
Brown's summer months will be very busy if he does decide to campaign for the chance to face Shaheen on Nov. 4 since both his and Huff's daughters are to be married this summer: Arianna in July, and Ayla, a one-time "American idol" finalist, in August.to After leaving Lancaster, Brown headed south to Littleton with stops at Chutters and the Littleton Diner, both Main Street establishments.
After meeting and talking with Brown, Richardson said that he would endorse him if he did decide to run, since he cannot support either Jim Rubens or former Senator Bob Smith.
It's been a heady week for Rep. Richardson.
Majority Leader Terie Norelli, a Democrat of Portsmouth, appointed him to serve on the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, without giving up his seat on the Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Richardson said, "I'm pleased and honored."