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ABC News "This Week" - Transcript


Location: Unknown

WALTERS: So you have a fascinating resume. Let -- let me -- and just in case some people don't know it. At 12 you were arrested for shop lifting?

BROWN: Right down the street.

WALTERS: You remember the place? OK.

BROWN: I do.

WALTERS: At 22 you posed nude for Cosmopolitan Magazine. For the past 30 years you've been in the National Guard, and you have the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. The past six years you've been a state senator, and now as the newly elected Republican senator from Massachusetts. You are the new star. I just saw that when I traveled a little bit with you.

What do you most want to accomplish? What's your passion?

BROWN: Well let me tell you what I'm most proud of. First of all that's being married for 23 years, and having two great kids. And I want to accomplish what I think is already starting to happen, which is to bring good government back to the equation. Have people come together and talk about issues out front -- transparent, and not behind closed doors. And I think that's happening as evidence  what happened with the president yesterday.

WALTERS: Well you know there was -- when the president had the meeting with the Republicans. And that back and forth. And the president talked about the fact that both sides demonized the other. But it seems to be working for the Republicans. Are you -- do you feel pressure that as the 41st you'll have a tough time voting Republican all the way?

BROWN: Everyone really is the 41st senator. And what it means is that now there will be full and fair debate. And there will be no more closed -- behind closed doors actions.

And make no mistake, I am a fiscal conservative. And when it comes to issues affecting people's pockets, and pocketbooks, and wallets, I'll be with the Republicans if they are in fact pushing those initiatives.

WALTERS: It has been said all over the country that your election was more about disappointment in the president than it was about voting for you in particular.

BROWN: I have to respectfully disagree. People here spoke very loudly and -- and very plainly about taxes and spending, terrorism, and the health care proposal.

WALTERS: Which means you -- which you represented?

BROWN: That's correct.

WALTERS: Yes. You know when I was with you just a little while ago with the crowd, one of the women said -- behind me -- said, "President 2012." And you said to me -- or under your breath, "That's silly." But do you rule it out?

BROWN: I -- I have to -- I have to tell you, I don't even have a business card. I haven't even been sworn in. I don't have any exploratory committees started. I don't have any -- anything -- it's -- it's overwhelming, and it's extremely humbling. I don't know how -- what else to tell you.

WALTERS: Let's talk about another rising star in the Republican party -- Sarah Palin. Do you think that Sarah Palin is presidential material?

BROWN: Well -- well, sure. I mean, she's been a mayor, and a governor. And -- and has a lot of -- a national following. But I think the more people in a presidential race, the better. She's never contacted us, and vice-versa.

WALTERS: Let's talk about some of your specific views. You are pro-choice, yes?


WALTERS: And gay marriage is legal in the state of Massachusetts. But the Republican party platform language calls for the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, and they want a federal ban on gay marriage. Are you out of step with your party, or do you think that the party has to broaden, and change its platform?

BROWN: Well I've always been a big tent person, you know? We need more people to come into our tent to express their views in a respectful and thoughtful manner.

And, you know, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, but I think we need to do more to reduce the amount of abortions. And the difference between me and maybe others is that I'm very -- I'm against partial-birth abortions. I'm against federal funding of abortions. And I believe in a strong parental consent notification law.

And we should do more for adoptions.

WALTERS: But you're still pro-choice?

BROWN: Yes, because I feel this issue is best handled between a woman and her doctor and her family. And on the marriage issue that you brought up, it's settled here in Massachusetts, but I believe that states should have the ability to determine their own destiny and the government should not be interfering with individual states' rights on issues that they deal with on a daily basis.

WALTERS: Well, there is the debate now in the Republican Party as to whether it should be more conservative or more moderate. Which direction do you bend?

BROWN: They can do whatever they want. I just know that I'm a Scott Brown Republican. What does that mean? That means I'm going to go down there and be accountable, accessible, open, and honest, and I'm going to bring good government and fairness back to the equation.

I'm a fiscal conservative. I care very deeply about -- because my mom was, as you probably know more than anybody is, you know, she was on welfare for a time. I remember getting the blocks of cheese and worrying about how we're going to pay the bills.

So when it comes to fiscal issues, I'm going to be very, you know, conservative and concerned about people's dollars.

WALTERS: And social issues, a little more moderate?

BROWN: Yes, of course.

WALTERS: The Tea Party movement was important to your victory. How influential do you think the Tea Party movement is going to be?

BROWN: Well, you're making an assumption that the Tea Party movement was influential, and I have to respectfully disagree. It was everybody. I had a plurality...

WALTERS: But it was part of it.

BROWN: Of course, it was.

WALTERS: OK. Let's talk about the president's State of the Union.

OBAMA: "I know it's an election year. And after last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual."

WALTERS: Do you see any evidence in his speech that he got a message from your election?

BROWN: On some issues, yes. I was encouraged that he was interested in doing, you know, nuclear power and doing some limited drilling under the proper circumstances. I felt his position on pointing out that Iran is certainly a very serious issue, and I'm hopeful that I can work with him on that.

I thought how he's handling, obviously, Afghanistan -- I was very vocal in supporting his position on increasing the troops. I was encouraged by the fact that he's going to do a freeze on spending and, more importantly, also look at, you know, tax reductions.

But I think we need to a little bit bolder. We need to make sure that we get a handle on spending and taxation.

WALTERS: President Obama has asked for a spending freeze on almost everything except matters like the military, Social Security, and Medicare. He says he's going line by line through the budget. Now, you have said that's not enough for you; that you want to cut spending and not just freeze it.

So what are the first 3 items that you would cut?

BROWN: The problem with what the president said is he's not doing it until 2011. We need to do it immediately. We need to put a freeze on federal hires and federal raises because, as you know, federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts.

I'm in favor of, you know, Judd Gregg's proposal, the bipartisan effort, almost like a BRAC closure...

WALTERS: Which was defeated.

BROWN: ... the base closing. And I thought the president did the right thing by saying through executive order he's going to bring it up. I would have supported the ability for him to do that.

WALTERS: On Friday, President Obama announced what he called the "best way to promote hiring," talking about jobs especially for the small businessmen. A $5,000 tax credit for each new employee added and tax relief for those companies that add to their payroll. A total cost is $33 billion dollars.

If and when this became a bill, would you vote for it? Yes or no?


WALTERS: Health care. Massachusetts requires that all residents purchase health insurance. You voted for that plan.

BROWN: Sure.

WALTERS: So why doesn't it make sense that all Americans have health insurance? Why isn't what's good for Massachusetts good for the whole country?

BROWN: In Massachusetts, the free market, the free enterprise has taken control, and they're offering a wide range of plans. I've never ever said that people should not get health insurance. It's just a question of if we're going to take a one-size-fits-all government plan or we're going to do something where the individual states can tailor their plans as we've done.

WALTERS: Do you think the whole plan should be scrapped?


WALTERS: The whole plan?


WALTERS: You don't...

BROWN: We need to go back to...

WALTERS: ... see that there could be some things that could be -- goodbye to the whole plan?

BROWN: I think it was on its last legs before I even got elected, because the Democrats even were upset at the backroom deals, for example, in Nebraska. And they want a chance, I believe, based on just what I'm hearing -- and I can't -- I'm not going to quote anybody directly -- that to go back to the drawing board and do it in a transparent, bipartisan manner --that's the big difference between Massachusetts and Washington.

WALTERS: And then would you want it state by state?

BROWN: I have to see what's being proposed. A lot of states want that flexibility. They do not want the federal government always being in their business saying you have to do it this way, this way, and this way.

But other states may not have that ability. They may want more government involvement.

WALTERS: There has been a good deal of criticism of President Obama's economic team. Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, was, after a great deal of&

BROWN: I would have supported him.

WALTERS: You would have?


WALTERS: Well, he had a lot of criticism, but he's in. OK. Now, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is on the hot seat. Should Tim Geithner be replaced?

BROWN: The president has to work with the people he feels most comfortable with, as I do in my own staff -- as you do with the people that are here.

And I think that if he feels comfortable with -- with Tim, then he -- he should keep him.

WALTERS: You have been a member of the National Guard for 30 years. You've talked about how important that service is.


WALTERS: You're a Lieutenant-Colonel. On Wednesday the president announced that he wants to work with Congress to repeal don't ask, don't tell. What's your view?

BROWN: I think it's important, because as you know we're fighting two wars right now. And the most -- the first priority is to -- is to -- is to finish the job, and win those wars. I'd like to hear from the Generals in the field -- in the field -- the people that actually work with these soldiers to make sure that, you know, the social change is not going to disrupt our ability to finish the job and complete the wars.

WALTERS: But Senator, your own view.

BROWN: That's my view.

WALTERS: So you can't say whether you're for or against it?

BROWN: No. I'm going to wait to speak to the generals on the ground.

WALTERS: President Obama said that in the last year there are more Al Qaeda terrorists including leaders captured or killed than in 2008. Now, obviously there are incidents like the one on Christmas day. Do you think that the president has made the country more safe?

BROWN: I think -- I think -- I don't think it's just about the president. It's not his job. His job is to be our leader, and he delegates to the appropriate authorities to make those decisions.

So I'm not going to give him a grade and say who did -- President Bush or President Obama -- who did the better job. I just want them to continue to do a good job, and I want to be able to provide, you know, my knowledge and my energy to helping.

WALTERS: You know, as we've been talking, you've expressed several time the idea of working together, Republicans and Democrats working together, and your knowledge helping the president. Do you feel now that there is going to be this kind of cooperation or reconciliation?

There's so much -- there's been so much anger and so much conflict. Do you think it's going it change?

BROWN: Well, it happens in many presidencies. This isn't the first. The fact that the number is a 60-40 number has certainly contributed to that, you know, head-banging. So I'm hopeful. What I'm sensing from people is, yes, in fact, there is a new sense of openness and cooperation. I mean, has the president met with the Republican delegation before? I don't think so.

WALTERS: But is it in part because of your election?

BROWN: I think so.

WALTERS: So your election may bring the two parties closer together?

BROWN: And I hope I'm on the front of the line, you know, leading the charge because we have some very serious issues affecting our, you know, jobs, our economy. We need to be not only the world's military leader but also its economic leader.

And if we're not either one of those, then we're going to have troubles.

WALTERS: So not just for you personally, but 41 has been a good number. Yes?

BROWN: Well, it's been a great number for the country. It's been a great number for the country, and I'm so -- I'm so invigorated to get down there and just work together.

WALTERS: You know, you replaced a beloved figure.

BROWN: Yeah, he was a great guy.

WALTERS: How do you think that Senator Ted Kennedy would feel about your election?

BROWN: Well...

WALTERS: Do you think he'd be disappointed?

BROWN: Well, we had a relationship prior to this, and he was always very friendly and always would ask who's the better singer, my daughter or me. I know when I spoke to his wife, she was the first person I called. And I -- she was -- she was very gracious and appreciative. So I'll leave that up to, you know -- if he's watching, I'll, you know, maybe he'll kind of let us know how he feels.

WALTERS: I'd like to talk a little bit about your growing up, your youth. Your parents divorced when you were a year old. Each 

BROWN: I'm not going to cry, by the way. OK. Just...

WALTERS: How do you know I'm not going to make you cry?


WALTERS: I'm not going to try to, Senator. OK?


WALTERS: Each of your parents were married four times, and you've described them as having a violent marriage. At one point, you talked about when you were five or six years old having to feel you had to save our mom, and your dad wasn't around very much. Difficult childhood.

How did this shape you?

BROWN: Well, first of all, my parents were both loving, and they still are. When they were divorced, I was one years old, but they were always there for me. When I referred to the violence in the home, it was with my mom's husband -- a couple of husbands. And I do remember getting up in the middle of the night and, you know, having to be the man of the family and come and rescue her and getting knocked around pretty good.

And it's made me appreciate my strong family and the fact that I have two great kids. I'm not going to cry. And, you know, I've learned from my parents' mistakes to do everything that they may have done wrong.

WALTERS: In an interview to the Boston Globe back in 1982, you said, "Sometimes...

BROWN: Marian Christy, if I'm not mistaken.

WALTERS: Yeah. "Sometimes, I think I'm being tested by a higher being. When things are going great, I think of it as a reward from heaven."

Do you still think your winning is a reward from heaven?

BROWN: Obviously, I was 22 years old there and thrust in the spotlight because of what I did with the Cosmo thing.

I believe in God, and I am very thankful for the things that I've, you know, been blessed with. Is there -- is there a higher being that's looking out for people? I hope so. I'm hopeful.

WALTERS: The Cosmopolitan Magazine. Well it just so happens, I have it.

BROWN: Great. I'm sure you do.


BROWN: Really? You're kidding, right?

WALTERS: Here. I really do. I have the magazine.

BROWN: Oh, yeah. The good old days. Do you want me to sign it?


WALTERS: Actually -- I want you -- well, it's a thought. I could -- I could then sell it for a lot.

BROWN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

WALTERS: But this is...

BROWN: Yeah.

WALTERS: ... the actual picture.


WALTERS: It's a -- it's a...

BROWN: I wish I still looked like that.

WALTERS: Well I'm not going to ask you to prove it. But this is pretty -- this is pretty raw stuff. OK. So...

BROWN: That's Cosmo -- 1982 Cosmo. Let's not get carried away here.

WALTERS: But at the economic conference in Davos, some of the foreign leaders -- that just took place last week -- were referring to you as that "nude magazine guy."


WALTERS: Were you worried -- or are you worried that this can make you a little bit of a joke?

BROWN: No. I was 22 years old. My -- my grandmother saw it. She laughed. You know, you have to have a sense -- have to have sense of humor about yourself. It wasn't Playgirl. It was Cosmo. You know being Bert Reynolds -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Davidson, David Hasselhoff also did it. And I'm the -- the only non, you know, famous person who did it back then.

WALTERS: What would you say if one of your daughters came to you and said, "Dad I want to pose nude?"

BROWN: Well I would leave it up to their discretion. I don't think that's in the -- in the cards though.

WALTERS: You know some women have said to me, "If a woman did a nude centerfold spread" -- even if it was more than 20 years ago -- they're not sure that she would be elected senator, because there's a double standard. What do you think?

BROWN: I think if someone is qualified, regardless of what they did in their youth -- we all make mistakes. I'm not perfect. And do I regret doing that? No. Cause if I hadn't done that, I never would have been sitting here with you. It's all connected. So is there a double standard? I hope not. If someone is qualified to do the job, they should be able to do it, regardless of what they've done in their past.

WALTERS: Let's talk about your daughters. In that victory speech&

BROWN: "In case anyone who's watching throughout the country they're both available. No, no no. No. Only kidding, only kidding."


WALTERS: Oh, I'll bet. I'll bet.


WALTERS: Well one isn't available.

BROWN: No. No. Her boyfriend was mad at me. But she -- she's good.

WALTERS: Your daughter, Ayla was a contestant on American Idol...


WALTERS: ... in 2006, at which time Simon Cowell described her performance as...

BROWN: Robotic.

WALTERS: You remember. Robotic, and empty.


WALTERS: Here's your chance. What would you like to say to Mr. Cowell?

BROWN: I'd love to have him have her on the show again because she's grown as well. She was 17, and she had never even put on makeup until she walked in the American Idol studios.

WALTERS: So you're asking him to please give her another chance?

BROWN: I've love them to get together and have her get on "Idol" again. I think it would be great for her. It would be great for the show and let people know that there's life after "Idol." Sure.

WALTERS: Well, there we go. We'll see if we get an answer from him.

BROWN: Ayla actually respects Simon greatly about his critiquing even though he's kind of harsh, what he says -- if you actually listen to what he says, it was right.

WALTERS: Senator, I have one final question. You and this beloved truck&

BROWN: "I have 202,277 miles (laughter).The thing runs great too. I haven't had any trouble with it."

WALTERS: Will you be getting a new truck?

BROWN: I think I'll eventually have to. I know American products are really good, but they eventually do wear out. I'm going to bring it down to Washington and use it as long as I can. It's a great truck. I live in the thing.

WALTERS: Its days are numbered.

BROWN: I live -- I mean, I change in it. I sleep in it. I eat in it. It's who I am. It's -- I'm just -- you know, I never thought the truck would be such a national symbol of freedom.

WALTERS: I appreciate your doing this.

BROWN: Thank you.

WALTERS: Thank you very much.


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