One of only a handful of U.S. Senators who are still uncommitted super-delegates, Senator Sherrod Brown feels "the length of the primaries is good and good for the energy on the Democratic side. Turnout is up. The primaries are helpful."
Speaking at my Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Center on Politics & Foreign Relations/Financial Times breakfast this week, the uncommitted super-delegate senator said, "the super-delegates [situation] will work itself out." He refused to endorse a candidate at our breakfast and said he would probably wait until June.
Asked if he has been courted by the Obama and Clinton camps, the junior senator from Ohio related a story about one recent evening when he was at home reading in his living room. "I picked up the phone and a young man's voice on the other end told me that President Bill Clinton would like to speak with you. I instantly stood and said 'Mr. President,' causing my wife to say, 'He can't see you' but it just seems that if the president of the United States calls you stand up. You would have done the same stupid thing, I imagine."
Since he is from the important swing state of Ohio, I asked the senator if he would like to be considered as a possible vice-presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket.
His response to me was: "No, and I know everybody says no but let me tell you why. First off, my wife would leave me. And, second I am content being a senator and hope to continue to be one as long as I am healthy which, I hope, should be a long while since I am only fifty-five."
The former Ohio Secretary of State several times called Senator John McCain "George W. McCain" implying that the Arizona senator would be carrying out many of the current president's policies.
Senator Brown, a graduate of Yale and Ohio State Universities, called McCain " a war hero" but disagrees with most of his domestic and foreign policy views.
The senator, whose wife won a Pulitzer Prize for her writing for the "Cleveland Plain Dealer" has been a consistent and outspoken critic of American involvement in Iraq. He gave out figures on the cost of war in Iraq saying that the war was "costing us $4,000 a second and $250, 000 a minute."
The senator, an avid Cleveland Indians fan, is a refreshing voice in the U.S. Senate. While he actually may be too liberal and too much of a populist to be chosen as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate this time around, he is a senator to watch in the future.
He has made trade one of his major issues. A strong opponent of NAFTA, he favors fair trade and provisions to protect labor standards in all trade agreements. He will be introducing new trade legislation in the senate next week.
As he says, "Trust but verify. The role of government is to provide fair rules for trade."
Also, when he was asked if the voters needed to know more about Senator Obama he says, "We know more about Obama than McCain."
The senator also lamented the loss of manufacturing jobs not only in Ohio but across the entire Midwest. Saying "we need to re-dress the balance in our economy" he points out that "profits of American financial services have doubled while middle class wages have remained stagnant."
As someone who has been covering the lengthy presidential campaign, it was refreshing to step back and listen to one of the up and coming new Democratic senators speak out on the issues of the day in an unaffected and low key manner.
Brown, a liberal and a populist senator with a distinctive raspy voice, is someone we will be hearing more from in the future on the national stage.
Follow Robert Guttman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cpfr