Scott Brown to train with National Guard instead of going to first days of convention

TAMPA – Senator Scott Brown has a ready-made explanation for not being here early this week for the Republican National Convention: He’s serving his country in the Army National Guard.

Former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey said today that the Massachusetts Republican senator was doing several days of service. She said that was preventing him from showing up at the national gathering of Republicans until Thursday – not any effort to distance himself from the more controversial factions of his own party.

“As I understand it, he has to serve his nation in the National Guard,” said Healey, a top adviser to Mitt Romney. She noted that Brown was going to still come when Romney formally accepts the presidential nomination on Thursday.

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“Many, many candidates who have difficult races – and as you know Scott Brown does have a difficult race right now – will not be attending the convention simply because they need to keep their focus on their own races,” she said.

A Brown campaign spokesman said he was participating in a “Veterans for Brown” event in Tewksbury on Monday with Medal of Honor recipient Tom Hudner. After two days of National Guard duty, he will spend Thursday in Tampa.

Last month, Brown said he was forgoing the typical two-week block of summer training for the Guard. Instead, he planned to serve the days individually at the Pentagon, shifts that allow him to limit the amount of time away from the campaign trail.

He faces a tough race against Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Healey spoke to reporters in the lobby of the Tampa Marriott Waterside & Marina Hotel, where the Massachusetts delegation is staying. The hotel will close down to public access later in the day.

She said she was glad Tropical Storm Isaac seems to be dodging the area (“I have an umbrella,” she said, apparently her only preparations), and she was excited that Massachusetts Republicans were in the spotlight.

“It’s probably not a surprise to see someone from Massachusetts moving to a national level,” Healey said. “But it is a surprise to see a Republican moving to a national level.”