Senator Brown speaks to INDIA New England about India, immigration, re-election

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Scott Brown is a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. A Republican in a traditionally Democratic state, Brown did what many thought was impossible when he won the Senate seat to fill the void left by political mainstay Ted Kennedy in 2010. He is the first Republican Senator from Massachusetts in almost four decades. A supporter of legal immigration, Brown has suggested legislation that supports the type of endeavors that have brought many Indians to the United States. One such piece of legislation, Startup 2.0, would create visas for entrepreneurs who graduate from American colleges. Brown is also bullish on U.S.-India relations and views India as a partner in global concerns such as terrorism, economic growth, energy and nuclear non-proliferation.

Raised in Watertown, Mass., Brown is a practicing attorney with a focus on real estate law. He began his political career as a town selectman and assessor. He also served in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives and the Massachusetts State Senate. Brown’s father was a long-time city councilor in Newburyport, Mass. Brown is a graduate of Tufts University and Boston College Law School.

Brown spoke to INDIA New England in the homestretch of his Senate re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. He opened up candidly about his plans if he is re-elected, as well as his athletic background and pursuits, his family and he also wished readers well for Diwali and discussed the shared democratic values between India and the United States.

Have you visited India or had any exposure to Indian culture?

I have not had the opportunity to visit India but have benefited from growing up in Massachusetts where there is a strong and energetic Indian community. As the largest Democracy in the world, India and the United States have many shared values and a shared vision for peace and stability in South Asia.

What do you think of the current state of India-U.S. relations? What would you do to strengthen the bilateral ties further?

We have seen a remarkable growth in our bilateral relationship over the last 10 years. India has become a major U.S. partner as, together, we take on our most important global challenges, such as terrorism, economic growth, energy and nuclear non-proliferation. We have been very fortunate that over successive administrations the United States and India have had consistent and positive improvements in our bilateral relations. I am confident that India-U.S. relations will continue to improve because we share a steadfast commitment to democracy and our shared common interests across the globe.

Do you have any message for the Indian and South Asian community?

The Indian and South Asian community have made Massachusetts and the United States a better place. With Diwali coming up next month, it is important to remember our shared beliefs in compassion, strength of family and self-reflection. We are a nation of immigrants and we have a long and successful history with legal immigration. Through our diversity we have built a strong and dynamic society. We need to build on this strength and improve our immigration laws to facilitate the world’s most talented people to come here and also protect our borders from those that skirt the system.

Immigration has been a big issue for many years and is an important issue to the South Asian community. What is your position on the issue of immigration? Do you think the issue will have an impact on your re-election?

I am a strong supporter of legal immigration. I believe we need to improve our legal immigration system so that people who play by the rules can come to our country without waiting in line for years on end. I support increasing caps and creating more visa opportunities. For example, I cosponsored legislation called Startup 2.0 that would create visas for entrepreneurs and foreign students who graduate from American colleges in certain degree fields. Legal immigration reform is really important for our economy. We want talented people from around the world to come here and create jobs.

What was the first thought that crossed your mind when you won the election replacing long-time U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Ted Kennedy?

I was humbled that the people of Massachusetts had chosen me to represent them in the Senate. We did what many thought was impossible, and serving as a U.S. Senator for Massachusetts has been the greatest honor of my life after, of course, my marriage to Gail and the birth of our two girls.

What first inspired you to get involved in politics and looking back is there anything you would change or do differently?

I started out as a town assessor in Wrentham. The Board of Selectmen actually appointed me to fill a vacancy after I applied. As a real estate attorney, I thought I could help the town. I believe public service is about helping people and families, and the best way to do that is to ensure that elected officials are accountable, open and transparent.

You have said that you had some important mentors in your life; would you like to name anyone and why?

When I was younger, Brad and Judy Simpson helped guide me toward a successful path. From basketball to school, they mentored me during the toughest periods of my youth. They were always there for me.

In recent years, Senator John McCain has been a hero of mine. He has served this country in so many ways, from Vietnam to the Senate, and it’s an honor to work alongside him. Back in 2010, he helped my campaign when very few people would. This year, when I was promoted to colonel in the Army National Guard, Senator McCain presided over the ceremony and pinned the new rank onto my uniform. I’ll always cherish that memory.

You have spoken about getting a second chance at a young age from Judge Samuel Zoll and the impact this incident has had on your life. Have you given a second chance to anyone in your life?

What Judge Zoll did for me dramatically changed the course of my life, and I’ve never forgotten how powerful that was. I could’ve ended up in jail as a thief, but he gave me the opportunity to clean up my act. But not for his compassion, my life would have gone in a very different direction. Throughout my life, I’ve always tried to bring the compassion Judge Zoll had for me into the cases I’ve handled in the military.

Which qualities of your wife Gail Huff do you draw the most strength from? How does she challenge you or motivate you?

Simply put, Gail is the love of my life. She helps and inspires me in more ways than I can count. During this campaign, she actually took a leave of absence from her job to come join my campaign, and it’s been a huge help having her on the team working to spread my pro-jobs message.

What is the best advice that you, as a parent, have given your daughters?

I’ve always encouraged my daughters to work hard and follow their dreams. I am incredibly proud of everything they have accomplished in their lives so far.

What do you admire most about the members of your family?

I didn’t have the ideal childhood growing up, and I have tried to learn from that experience to be a better father and husband. Gail, Ayla and Arianna are the most important people in my life, and even though the girls live in different parts of the country these days, we still are very close and talk, text or e-mail almost every day.

You have a well-document strong background in athletics. Did you ever think about targeting a career in athletics when you were younger?

As a kid, I thought basketball was my ticket to a better life. I had a tough upbringing, and I used basketball as an outlet for a lot of things, and often as my escape from difficult issues at home. I ended up being recruited to play at Tufts University, so basketball helped me get my college degree, and did end up leading to a better life. In fact, basketball literally saved my life in many ways.

What inspired you to do a triathlon in 1995 at the age of 36? How important a role does diet and exercise play in your life? Have you ever thought of helping to raise awareness about health and fitness with American public?

I love competition and wanted to stay in shape, so as I got older and played less basketball, I wanted to fill the void with something else. It started with road races and duathlons, but once I finished my first triathlon, I was hooked. It’s such a physical challenge and finishing the race is exhilarating. I still run in races and compete in triathlons across Massachusetts as often as my schedule allows. My involvement is often covered by the media and I hope it encourages people to try some of these activities. The entry fees for these races often go to charity organizations, so you end up promoting good health and supporting good causes.

If re-elected, what are the first three things you would like to accomplish in the Senate with your new term?

The number one issue facing our country is job creation. With 23 million people unemployed or underemployed and a record setting number of people on food stamps, we must turn this economy around so our businesses can hire people again. I believe we can spur more job growth by providing our small businesses and job creators with tax certainty. That means we need to, first, not raise taxes on any American. Second, we need tax reform that simplifies the tax code and lowers rates for families and small businesses.

Finally, we have a debt crisis on our hands, which also prevents businesses from growing and hiring as much as they would if we had our fiscal house in order. We need to rein in spending immediately, and one of the best ways we can do that is with a Balanced Budget Amendment.

So, in short, I’ll be focused on job growth, helping the middle class and businesses keep more of what they earn and tackling our massive national debt so we can have long-term economic security.

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