By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Brown and Hudak speak

(Breaking, 2:30 p.m.: Hudak apologizes to Brown. See Tony Schinella’s comment for details.)

Three new developments in the matter of whether U.S. Sen.-elect Scott Brown endorsed congressional candidate William Hudak, who reportedly has denied that President Obama was born in the United States (he now denies the denial), and who offended his Boxford neighbors during the 2008 presidential campaign by putting a sign on his property comparing Obama to Osama bin Laden.

1. Brown tells the Boston Globe that Hudak put out a press release touting Brown’s endorsement without his knowledge or permission. “I haven’t spoken to Bill at all,’’ Brown said. “I understand he made a press release of some sort. But I wasn’t aware of it, and we’ve asked him to retract it.”

But Brown also reportedly “dodged” on the matter of whether he would endorse Hudak. Wrong question. Brown should have been asked whether he’d said anything to Hudak that would lead him to believe he already had Brown’s endorsement.

Still, Brown’s comments are in accord with a statement put out yesterday by his spokesman, Felix Browne. The most likely scenario remains that Brown said something Hudak wrongly interpreted as an endorsement.

2. Hudak, in an interview with the Salem News, says, “There’s no question that he [Brown] gave me his endorsement,” citing a “private conversation” the two men had. He also says he did not see the press release his own campaign put out touting the alleged endorsement, but that it’s OK with him: “I trust my campaign staff to do what they need to do.”

So now we have a press release filled with direct quotes from both Brown and Hudak, and both men say they were unaware of it before it went out. It reminds me of the time that David Wells claimed he’d been misquoted in his own autobiography.

Neither the Globe nor the News credits Media Nation for bringing this story to light yesterday. No big deal, but the News allows Hudak to blame it on “Democrats,” and to refer to the whole matter as “very clearly politically motivated.”

The implication left hanging is that political operatives put this out there. The reality is that I have a memory like an elephant for certain things. I’m not a Democrat. As for being partisan, I’ve been complimentary toward Brown and his staff for the way they’ve handled this.

3. As Hudak’s spokesman did yesterday in The Hill, Hudak, in his interview with the News, denies that he believes Obama was born outside the United States. News reporter Stacie Galang writes, “Hudak said he has clarified his stance, but it continues to be repeated, wrongfully, in the press. It’s ‘not even an issue.'”

Hudak’s alleged birther views have been reported in two papers: the Tri-Town Transcript, which published the original story in November 2008, and in a column by Nelson Benton in the Salem News, which pointed out, as the Transcript had not, that Hudak was a Republican candidate for Congress.

In an e-mail to Media Nation, Benton says Hudak has “never asked for a correction.” An editor for GateHouse Media, which owns the Transcript, told me last night that he hopes to provide some information to me later today.

Update: Hudak never asked the Transcript for a correction, either, according to Peter Chianca, managing editor of GateHouse Media New England’s North Unit. Chianca e-mails: “David Rogers, the Transcript’s editor at the time, says that Hudak did not ask for a correction after the story ran.”

Earlier coverage.

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Thinking through the Brown-Hudak matter


Good for speech, bad for democracy?


  1. Brad Deltan

    Jesus Christ…if ever there were a clear-cut case of the electorate getting the politicians it deserves. We truly are a state of total morons here in Mass, aren’t we?

  2. lkcape

    Scandal! Scandal!

    Keep up the pressure. Dan!

    Investigative journalism into the irrelevant is always a fine way of establishing credentials.

  3. mike_b1

    @Brad: In this instance, yes.

    My question(s): Has Hudak said, precisely, what Brown said to him regarding an endorsement? And if not, why doesn’t he?

  4. Dunque

    Seems like a case of making whine from sour grapes.

  5. Bill Callahan

    Hudak is scheduled to speak at St. John’s Prep on Monday the 25th @ 2:30 pm.

    Call the school for comment!

  6. It may seem like a small thing, but it speaks volumes about the way Brown operates. Will he be bringing that same attention to detail to Capitol Hill?

    At the very least, he should be reading every press release his people put out.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Brigid: A reminder — it was Hudak’s press release, not Brown’s.

  7. Al

    well, if nothing else, it’ll be entertaining seeing a fringe character take on Tierney. Keep banging away on this, Dan.

  8. BillH

    It appears that Hudak isn’t going to lie down quietly on this, but he certainly knows that he needs Brown more than Brown needs him. Why not claim that he misunderstood Brown’s intent during a private conversation and apologize, hoping to get a formal endorsement later? By choosing to ride this particular torpedo all the way to its target, he not only offends Brown, but he also gets all of the wrong kind of publicity. Not a good strategy.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Bill: You are asking for common sense from someone who pissed off his neighbors by putting a poster in his yard of Obama dressed up as a terrorist.

  9. It’s true that it was Hudak’s release, but if you attribute a quote to someone it’s common courtesy to run it by them before sending out the release. Admittedly, the fault for that could lie on either side.

  10. FYI:

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Danvers, MA–Bill Hudak, Republican Candidate for Congress, extends his formal apology to U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown and for endorsement quotes contained in a campaign press release which were attributed to, but not made by, the newly elected Senator, and retracts the statements.

    “Scott and I had several conversations where he pledged to provide support for me after the election. However, as a person new to politics, I took those conversations as permission to move and jumped the gun in the heat of the moment,” Hudak said.

    The Hudak campaign distributed a press-release on Wednesday making Senator-elect Brown’s support public without first securing the signoff for the document from Brown’s campaign and transition team.

    “Our campaign misinterpreted his verbal agreement of support from Senator-elect Brown as an approval to proceed with the endorsement announcement. And, we did not follow proper procedure for getting the press release approved by the Senator-elect’s team,” said Hudak.

    “I look forward to taking Scott up on his pledge to help me, but will let him dictate when that support should be communicated,” continued Hudak.

    “What is most distressing is the extent to which left-wing bloggers continue to use smear tactics, including trying to portray me as a ‘birther’ and falsely denigrate and accuse Senator-elect Brown of being of that belief”, Hudak said. “Let me make clear that while I don’t agree with everything he does, President Obama is our President and I believe he was born in the United States, and accusations that he was not are unsupported nonsense and non-issues to the business of our country,” Hudak remarked.

    “Scott Brown is our Senator, and needs to go to work free of distractions”, Hudak said, “and that includes my or any other candidacy. We need to focus on jobs, taxes, uncontrolled government spending, and the economy now”, he continued. I look forward to joining him in this fight as we continue to move forward with our campaign”, Hudak concluded.


  11. Tunder

    Ironically, Dan, your “investigative journalism” that lskape scoffed at probably was very helpful in the long run for the Hudak campaign.

    He did the right thing by writing and releasing this letter and already has raised his credibility in this Democrat’s eyes.

  12. sus

    He never explains the posters he had at his house.

  13. sus

    Hey Dan, Google this:

    “I will sign every peition, if I have to, to get this”


  14. All you “left-wing bloggers” (this means you and your Media Nation irregulars, Dan)stand up and take a bow. You’ve flushed out another four-flusher.

  15. The signs about Obama posted outside Hudak’s house are a clue to the man. What remains to be seen is the extent to which Scott Brown distances himself, not just from the press release but from other “Hudakisms.” Thanks for sticking with the story, Dan.

  16. Bill Callahan

    Hey listen, I am a partisan Dem and certainly hope to see Hudak defeated and Tierney keep his seat. I would be thrilled to see Hudak get the nomination, but I fear that other Reps will toss their hats in the ring soon. I think Hudak’s campaign will be a sinking ship if a non-crazy Rep with a reasonable resume appears. Even the Tea Party folks know that Obama is still personally respected by most voter outside a Rep primary.

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