Scott Brown visits Moultons’ Market in Amherst

AMHERST – “We need someone who can go up against Barack Obama’s No. 1 supporter,” Stephen Stepanek told a small group of people that gathered in Moulton’s Market one morning last week.

The center of attention was Scott Brown, who looked relaxed as he stood near the coffee carafes and spoke to supporters in Amherst.

The former Massachusetts senator is seeking New Hampshire’s Republican nomination to oppose Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the November election.

“Scott’s a little to the left of me, but I agree with 80 percent (of Brown’s positions). He is a very thoughtful person,” Stepanek said.

The other candidates for the GOP nomination are conservative activist Karen Testerman, a former Mont Vernon resident, Jim Rubens, former New Hampshire state senator, and Bob Smith, a former U.S. senator and representative from New Hampshire.

“Jim Rubens is to the left of all of us,” Stepanek said. “You’ve got to be able to raise money, and Scott Brown can.”

Brown said he is learning that people “are deeply concerned about the effects of Obamacare,” including the costs of the Affordable Care Act upon businesses.

“Ski areas have to close earlier” than normal, he said.

Brown accused Shaheen of being a Washington insider who is contributing to Washington gridlock. Thanks to inaction by Congress, he said, it’s getting “more and more difficult” for ordinary people to lead a secure and peaceful life.

Brown and supporters also talked about the situation in Ukraine, and Brown said that the U.S. military is spread thin and that our foreign policy is being challenged.

“We have to make sure our foes fear us and our allies trust us,” Brown said.

The April 23 event at Moulton’s was organized by Stepanek, a former state representative, and was one of several appearances Brown made in New Hampshire that week.

When asked by a reporter why he was at the Amherst event, Tom Knott, of Amherst, said he has been “a big fan of the senator” for a long time. Brown is not Jeanne Shaheen, he said, “and I think his chances are very good. Obamacare is a weight that’s going to pull her down.”

Brown, in an effort to show that he understands the importance of “retail politics” in New Hampshire, said he and his wife, former Boston newscaster Gail Huff, were having chicken tenders at the Puritan Restaurant in Manchester recently and talked to a woman who told him, “When I see you three times, I’ll give you my vote.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.