Scott Brown at the podium, Amherst College Johnson Chapel
Private citizen Scott Brown's reception on a return visit to Amherst was a radical departure from his first visit 18 months ago as US Senator where a hoard of activists treated him rudely, some to the point of disrespect, and attempted to hound him all the way up Bare Mountain, although the vast majority could not match his brisk pace to the top.
Of course it was a "republican" group who had invited him to speak today, and about 75 mostly college aged youth answered the call. The night-and-day difference was not lost on the former senator who pointed out this speech represented, "The first time I have not had any protesters".
Good crowd, mostly college aged youths, came to hear Scott Brown speak at Amherst College
Perhaps remembering that exact Amherst incident he continues, "I'm a moderate -- the most bipartisan senator in the senate and I'm being protested?! But that's what makes our country so wonderful: We have ability to have that free speech. We have that ability to question authority, to make a difference."
Moderate indeed: Brown touched on his socially liberal beliefs from campaign finance reform to supporting gays serving in the military, and a woman's right to choose.
Which brought on perhaps his most exasperating moment, remembering the bitter campaign just ended, only his first loss in a dozen elections. "I'm a pro-choice, moderate, bipartisan republican ... and I'm going to help take away women's rights? Really!
He continues earnestly, "I'm from a house full of women. I have three of the most hard charging, high powered women in my life and apparently I'm going to change -- just like that."
Scott Brown with his "hard charging, high powered" wife, Gail Huff
Brown repeated the word "bipartisan" over and over, saying that would be the key to his credibility now as a critic of the status quo. We all need to "work together as Americans first."
He went on to poignantly remember the height of cooperation that made him "most proud" of the US Congress, when members from both sides of the isle stood together, some arm in arm, on the US Capitol steps and sang "God Bless America" on the late afternoon of 9/11.
But those days a l-o-n-g gone.
We have moved away from "tolerance and cooperation and the ability to work as Americans first ... We're in deep trouble. What do I mean by that? Economy is flat, unemployment is up, $16.5 trillion national debt. When I went down there it was $11.95 trillion. $16.5 trillion now!"
Turning to a post mortem on his recent senate loss he started with a forthright, "I wouldn't change a thing." Because as a Republican he had an amazingly steep climb right out of the starting gate.
In a state where only 11% of voters are registered republicans, fighting a contest in a presidential election year with a peak turnout, competing for a seat that was formerly owned by a Kennedy, a family name in Massachusetts only one step down from God on the reverence scale.
Yet he lost by only 7.5%, while Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- a former Governor no less -- lost the state by a whopping 23%.
Scott Brown left the rapt audience with a challenge: "Are you going to be a part of the go-along-to- get-along crowd or are you going to be a leader at the college. Are you going to make a difference?"
Considering the obstacles he has overcome, Scott Brown provided them a timely role model.
Tony Melendez, who plays guitar with his feet, also provided an inspirational talk and musical demonstration of how the human spirit can overcome adversity.
Amherst College Johnson Chapel, under a majestic American flag, provided a bright cozy setting for uplifting talks
Mass Daily Collegian managed to muster a reporter (what say you Gazette, Republican, Ch 22, Ch 40?)