Brown: Mass. Win about Anger, not Obama

Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, speaks at a rally in Wrentham, Mass., Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. AP

Sen.-elect Scott Brown, the Republican who upset Democrats in the special Senate election in Massachusetts, says he doesn't think it was a referendum on President Barack Obama.

Brown also said in a nationally broadcast interview Wednesday that he also doesn't think his victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley "was anything that she did." Brown said, instead, he was able to tap into growing aggravation among voters, including independents, over partisan gridlock in Washington.

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Brown noted on NBC's "Today" show that he addressed concerns about terrorism, taxes and the Obama-pushed health care and that the many voters in the traditionally Democratic state "enjoyed the message." Brown won a comfortable margin in the election to elect a successor to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

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The election transformed reliably Democratic Massachusetts into a battleground state. One day shy of the first anniversary of Obama's swearing-in, it played out amid a backdrop of animosity and resentment from voters over persistently high unemployment, industry bailouts, exploding federal budget deficits and partisan wrangling over health care.

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Brown's crusade against the health care reform bill helped to send health insurance and pharmaceutical stocks soaring Tuesday pushing the stock market to a 15-month high, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

However, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson said many factors beyond health care contributed to the upset.

"Lots of Democrats are taking different lessons from different parts of this," Dickerson said on CBS' The Early Show Wednesday. "What they know is there's an unfocused anger out there and they may all be the victim of it and the problem with everybody taking their own interpretations of this is that it's hard to get everybody to move in one direction."

For weeks considered a long-shot, Brown, a little-known state senator, rode that wave of bitterness to draw even with Coakley, the state attorney general, in the final stretch of the campaign. Surveys showed his candidacy energized Republicans while attracting disappointed Democrats and independents uneasy with where they felt the U.S. was heading.

"I have no interest in sugarcoating what happened in Massachusetts," said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the head of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee. "There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now. Americans are understandably impatient."

Brown will finish Kennedy's unexpired term, facing re-election in 2012. Brown will be the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in 30 years.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama's chief campaign adviser said he would not direct the president any differently amid the current political turmoil facing over health care reform and the economy facing the White House, but implored the Democratic party to "step up."

David Plouffe, who is no longer a member of Mr. Obama's staff, told "CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday that he was disappointed but not surprised that the Democrats lost the senate seat in Massachusetts.

Plouffe noted that Democrats took control of Congress in the 2008 election on a message of change. "We have to deliver on that," he said.

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