Sen.-elect Scott Brown came to Congress with celebrity swagger Thursday, attracting hordes of cameras while proclaiming Washington needs help because "we've sort of lost our way."
Still basking in the glow of his stunning victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election against Martha Coakley, Brown said he looks forward to getting to work. "I plan to look at every bill and make a rational decision," said Brown, speaking to reporters outside a Senate office building after he arrived on Capitol Hill.
For all the hubbub, Brown said he held great respect for Sen. Edward Kennedy, the man who held the seat from his election in 1962 until his death in August from brain cancer.
"I'm stepping into shoes that are very, very big," Brown said during a meeting with Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode island, the late senator's son.
The pickup truck-driving candidate who caught the imagination of Massachusetts voters called Washington "the best place in the world when it comes to solving problems," if the system is working properly.
He immediately went to visit Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a staunch campaign supporter, and also had visits scheduled with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Massachusetts Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Paul Kirk.
Asked to say precisely what he hopes to accomplish here, Brown replied, "I'm certainly not in favor of higher taxes and cutting Medicare half a trillion."
Inside McCain's office, Brown said he expects to be sworn in sometime next week.
Surveying the crush of cameras and reporters, Brown said, "It's a little overwhelming seeing you all here. I understand it will calm down and we can all get to work."
He added: "People want good government. They want transparency, they want us to solve problems."
McCain was Brown's highest-profile supporter and the party's champion of campaign finance reform. Kirk has held the seat since Kennedy died in August, and Kerry will be Brown's partner in policy affecting Massachusetts.
Kerry, who is recovering from hip replacement surgery, joked that he wanted to compete in a triathlon with Brown. Kerry said he doubted that the bitter Senate race in Massachusetts would prevent the two men from working together.
"I look forward to having a good, working, friendly relationship," Kerry said.
The timing of Brown's swearing-in remained in question. While Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin sent a letter to the Senate clerk Wednesday declaring him the unofficial winner of the seat, senators had to decide whether they were going to waive a waiting period for absentee ballot arrivals.
There was almost a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"-like quality about Brown as he reflected earlier on his win. Not only did he beat a better-known rival, but he did so in one of the most Democratic states in the country and in a battle over the seat Kennedy held for nearly a half-century.
The victory will give the Republicans the 41st Senate vote they need to sustain a filibuster, while it will cost Obama the supermajority he had been counting on to power through his health care overhaul and the remainder of his midterm agenda.
"If you were to tell me growing up that a guy whose mom was on welfare and parents had some marital troubles, and I had some issues growing up, that a guy from Wrentham would be here standing before you right now and going to Washington, D.C., are you kidding me?" Brown said at a postelection news conference.
After his day trip to Washington, Brown was returning to Massachusetts to contemplate when to resign his state Senate seat and how to cope with the new demands of being a capital commuter.
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