For a variety of Republicans, the Supreme Court’s contraception ruling in the Hobby Lobby case poses a real challenge. Criticize the decision and GOP officials run the risk of infuriating the party’s base. Endorse the decision and Republicans risk alienating the American mainstream, which doesn’t like the idea of employers interfering with contraception access.
It’s why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), for example, went to unintentionally amusing lengths to avoid saying anything about the Hobby Lobby ruling. But as Paul Lewis reported, even Christie wasn’t as evasive as former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), now on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
I found Brown at a table at a restaurant called Priscilla’s, introduced myself as a Guardian reporter and enquired if I could ask him some questions. Brown smiled nervously and replied: “What do you want to ask me about?”“Hobby Lobby? That would be a start,” I said.“I’m all set,” he replied. “We’re enjoying ourselves right now.”“But you’re standing for Senate. It is routine for journalists to ask you questions and usually the candidates answer.”“Not without notifying my office.”
At that point, Brown reportedly “took shelter in the bathroom.” When the reporter waited in the diner’s parking lot to follow-up, the Republican candidate exited, ran into a car, and left.
As a rule, when politicians feel the need to literally run away from questions, it’s not a good sign.
In Brown’s case, the history on this matters. As an incumbent senator (in a different state) running for re-election two years ago, the Massachusetts Republican endorsed the so-called “Blunt Amendment,” which would have effectively enshrined into law what the Supreme Court’s conservatives did last month.
And in 2012, Elizabeth Warren was eager to let the public know about Brown’s position. He lost the race by nearly eight points, but Brown lost women by a whopping 18 points.
Is it any wonder he’s terrified of talking about the issue now?
That said, this kind of fear is unbecoming in any candidate, especially someone who claims to be a straight-shooter. For Brown to insist journalists check with their staff before asking a question is obviously absurd, but hiding in a bathroom is worse.