The man who shook up Washington came to Capitol Hill on Thursday and demonstrated a trait rarely associated with the nation’s marble halls of power and giant egos: humility.
“I’ve got a lot to learn,” Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown said repeatedly during a series of visits with members of the Senate — a chamber often referred to as “the world’s most exclusive club.”
“I’m stepping into big shoes,” Brown said.
By tapping into voter anger aimed at a grid-locked Congress, a double-digit jobless rate and an unpopular plan to revamp the U.S. healthcare system, Brown won the Senate seat formerly held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democratic icon.
Once sworn in in the next week or so, Brown will be the 41st Republican in the 100-seat Senate — and could provide the vote to block much of President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, including healthcare reform.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell flashed a big grin and told Brown that he has already begun calling him “forty-one.”
Brown thanked senators for taking time to meet with him. “I really appreciate it,” he said again and again.
He even voiced appreciation to reporters, photographers and TV crews following him. “Thanks for coming out here,” Brown said. “I guess it’s a slow news day.”
Brown also delivered a message, however, that he shouldn’t be taken for granted and that he expected to be heard. He did so in a little more than a whisper.
“I believe that people on both sides of the aisle want me to come here,” said Brown, who was elected on Tuesday with the support of Republicans, independents and Democrats. “They want me to be part of the process, and part of the solution.”
Brown stepped into the office of Democratic Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts’ senior senator who supported Brown’s unsuccessful Democratic foe, and quickly demonstrated deference.
“It’s good to be the junior senator-elect from Massachusetts,” Brown said. “I’ve always had respect for Senator Kerry and look forward to working with him.”
Then he said it again: “I have a lot to learn.”
Click here for news coverage of Brown’s arrival on Capitol Hill.
Reuters photos by Larry Downing