GEORGETOWN — Freshman Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown didn't need his well-worn barn jacket and pickup truck to get a warm welcome from the city's business owners yesterday.
Sixteen months after winning a seat in a Democratic stronghold, the Republican senator got a warm reception from the sellout crowd gathered for the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry's annual luncheon at Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown.
Brown, who was introduced by chamber President Ann Ormond as Newburyport's hard-working "native son," attended the event with his father, C. Bruce Brown, and stepmother, Peggy Brown, who are longtime residents of Plum Island, where the senator spent summers growing up.
Demonstrating the disarming candor he's become known for, Brown shared a private thought about family before moving on to politics and policy.
"I'm very thankful he's with me," Brown said of his father. "Like many families, we're a work in progress. We try to do better every day."
Brown moved quickly from the personal to delve into what he said are the biggest issues facing business owners and average Americans.
"How many people here have woken up in the night and said, 'Oh my goodness, I don't know if I can pay that salary, that electric bill?'" Brown said.
He said while those are the concerns of real business owners like the ones gathered at the luncheon, they aren't realized by most politicians in Washington.
"There is no recession in Washington," he said.
Problems stem from a number of places, he said. Thanks to layers of bureaucracy, it takes the U.S. years to build a 500,000-square-foot building that can be constructed in China in months, he said. Other countries are putting up wind turbines in a fraction of the time that states here are able to do the same thing, he said.