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Why even a losing presidential bid would help Scott Brown
The former Massachusetts senator is hoping his call for a big-tent GOP will catch on
Onward and upward for Brown?
Onward and upward for Brown? Robert Giroux/Getty Images
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ormer U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts spent the weekend in Iowa, a critical early presidential primary prize, and confirmed to reporters that he is considering launching a bid for the White House in 2016. "I'm going to be coming out more often to try to determine whether there's an interest in my brand of leadership and Republicanism," Brown told The Des Moines Register.

Brown became a GOP hero in 2010 when he beat Democratic opponent Martha Coakley to take the late Ted Kennedy's seat — a rare Republican victory in the deep-blue state. But he lost his 2012 re-election to Elizabeth Warren.

The conventional wisdom is that Brown would have a tough time winning over GOP primary voters, especially after another Massachusetts moderate, Mitt Romney, lost what Republicans viewed as a winnable race against a vulnerable President Obama in 2012. As Patrick Howley notes at The Daily Caller, even many Republicans in Brown's home state soured on him when he tried to lure centrists away from Warren with his "People over Party" slogan.

Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon is more blunt: "Scott Brown will never win a Republican primary. Not even close. The primary process is dominated by the most ardent GOP voters and activists; the kinds of people who want a red-blooded conservative populist, not some self-proclaimed 'bi-partisan problem solver' who bent over backwards in his 2012 race to paint himself as a moderate salve to the Tea Party's intransigence."

If Brown, now working as a lawyer, is such a long shot, what will he get out of publicly floating the possibility of a presidential bid? Here's how Seitz-Wald sees it:

First of all, it almost never hurts to fake a run for the presidency. If expectations are low, and they definitely are for Brown... , then you have nowhere to go but up. A failed bid that manages to capture at least a sliver of the electorate and last past New Hampshire — where Brown would presumably be strong — can keep you relevant, boost your visibility, and get you booked on TV. [Salon]

Even if Brown doesn't wind up running, he's boosting his national name recognition by hitting the Iowa State Fair at the same time as other politicians who are starting to test the waters. Iowa Republican committee chairman A.J. Striker and other GOP leaders praised Brown for advocating a big-tent party. That kind of praise could help him, no matter what his next move is. Here's Margaret Hartmann at New York:

Even if people aren't interested in nominating another Republican from Massachusetts (who's less experienced than Mitt Romney), being talked about as a potential candidate won't hurt his chances if he decides he wants to be the governor in his home state, a senator from Massachusetts or New Hampshire [where he has a second home]. [New York]

Of course, there's another reason this trial balloon might pay off. Brown might prove his doubters wrong, as he did when he defied the odds to win liberal lion Kennedy's seat. "It's not a ridiculous notion," says David S. Bernstein at Boston Magazine. "He's a pretty well-known entity among Republican primary voters; he would likely inherit much of the Romney operation; and he could perhaps be the lone (relative) moderate while a field of conservatives split the rabid base."

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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