Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, an embattled Republican who has already decried his party’s platform, on Wednesday struggled to answer repeated questions about whether he still backs Mitt Romney for president.
And he never stuck up for Romney, although his office later said he was "absolutely" on the Republican team.
Confused? That’s the point.
Brown wants it both ways. He wants Massachusetts moderates and liberals to think he’s dubious about Romney. He wants conservatives to think he’s a Mitt man.
Hence Wednesday’s mixed signals.
A day after he pointedly distanced himself from Romney’s crude claim that 47 percent of Americans are “dependent” voters who will not back the GOP’s national ticket, Brown was pursued by reporters in Washington with questions about whether he’s still backing the former Massachusetts governor.
“I made it very, very clear where I stand on these issues,” Brown responded, without actually responding, to the questions.
When a reporter for the newspaper The Hill pressed Brown on the issue, the senator, who has positioned himself as a more moderate player than most in his party, said, “Listen, you’re going to have to speak to Governor Romney about what his plans are. I’m doing what I’ve been doing.”
The reporter asked again if Brown was still a Romney-Ryan man, Brown danced around the direct question.
“He’s working hard to get his message out,” Brown said of Romney. “I don’t agree with him on everything but that’s what being an independent senator is about: criticizing my party when it’s appropriate and then praising people when they have an opportunity to do something well.”
The senator then darted into a Capitol elevator.
Later in the day, Brown’s office said the senator "absolutely supports Romney, there’s no doubt about that.”
But the senator, given repeated opportunities to remove all doubt, opted to keep it vague.
And it is a safe bet that this dance will continue.
Wednesday’s bizarre round of questioning and non-answering highlights the difficult position in which Brown finds himself. Brown came up politically as a Romney ally, serving as a GOP state representative and state senator when Romney was the governor of Massachusetts. The two men know each other and have backed one another in past races.