BOSTON — A month after being crowned the darling of national conservatives, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., is being branded "Benedict Brown" for siding with Democrats in favor of a jobs bill endorsed by the Obama administration.
Like the four other GOP senators who joined him, the man who won the late Democrat Edward Kennedy's seat says it's about jobs, not party politics. And that may be good politics, too.
The four other GOP senators who broke ranks — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, George Voinovich of Ohio and Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri — also were criticized Tuesday. But Brown was the big target on conservative Web sites, talk shows and even the Facebook page his campaign has promoted as an example of his new-media savvy.
"We campaigned for you. We donated to your campaign. And you turned on us like every other RINO," said one writer, using the initials for "Republican-In-Name-Only."
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The Drudge Report colored a photo of Brown on its home page in scarlet.
The new senator responded by calling a Boston radio station.
"I've taken three votes," Brown said with exasperation. "And to say I've sold out any particular party or interest group, I think, is certainly unfair."
The senator said that by the time he seeks re-election in two years, he will have taken thousands of votes.
"So, I think it's a little premature to say that," he said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wasn't particularly perturbed about Brown's vote, saying his election last month has "made a huge, positive difference for us and for the whole legislative agenda."
"We don't expect our members to be in lockstep on every single issue," McConnell added.
The jobs bill faces a final Senate vote today.