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Scott Brown Stumps in Upper Valley

  • Peter Thomson, owner of Mount Cube Farm, and his son, Simon, watch as Scott Brown tastes a bottle of freshly made maple syrup at the Mount Cube Farm in Orford, N.H.. Brown, who is exploring the possibilities of running for United States Senate, visited the farm as a part of his "Main Streets & Living Rooms" tour. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Peter Thomson, owner of Mount Cube Farm, and his son, Simon, watch as Scott Brown tastes a bottle of freshly made maple syrup at the Mount Cube Farm in Orford, N.H.. Brown, who is exploring the possibilities of running for United States Senate, visited the farm as a part of his "Main Streets & Living Rooms" tour.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Scott Brown talks with Farm Owner Lee Robie about milk prices at the Robie Farm in Piermont, N.H., on March 22, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Scott Brown talks with Farm Owner Lee Robie about milk prices at the Robie Farm in Piermont, N.H., on March 22, 2014.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Scott Brown takes a break from discussing his political views to pet a calf at the Robie Farm in Piermont, N.H., on March 22, 2014. Brown has spent the past week visiting towns in New Hampshire, talking with individuals and visiting businesses as a part of an exploratory tour to determine whether he will run for United States Senate.  <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Scott Brown takes a break from discussing his political views to pet a calf at the Robie Farm in Piermont, N.H., on March 22, 2014. Brown has spent the past week visiting towns in New Hampshire, talking with individuals and visiting businesses as a part of an exploratory tour to determine whether he will run for United States Senate.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peter Thomson, owner of Mount Cube Farm, and his son, Simon, watch as Scott Brown tastes a bottle of freshly made maple syrup at the Mount Cube Farm in Orford, N.H.. Brown, who is exploring the possibilities of running for United States Senate, visited the farm as a part of his "Main Streets & Living Rooms" tour. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Scott Brown talks with Farm Owner Lee Robie about milk prices at the Robie Farm in Piermont, N.H., on March 22, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Scott Brown takes a break from discussing his political views to pet a calf at the Robie Farm in Piermont, N.H., on March 22, 2014. Brown has spent the past week visiting towns in New Hampshire, talking with individuals and visiting businesses as a part of an exploratory tour to determine whether he will run for United States Senate.  <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Orford — Come Maple Weekend in New Hampshire, Peter Thomson knows he can count on fellow Orford residents Keith and Karen Wertman to help welcome visitors to his Mount Cube Sugar Farm and ring up their purchases of syrup, maple cotton candy, pancake mix and memorabilia.

On Saturday, Thomson sweetened the pot of reasons for the Wertmans to brave the snow squalls and the frost heaves leading up New Hampshire Route 25A to the height-of-land on Mount Cube’s north slope: Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown would be stopping by on his tour of the state he’s considering asking to send him back to Washington — in place of incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

“I remember him a little from when he was down in Massachusetts,” Keith Wertman, an optician with an office in Fairlee, said while waiting with the Thomson family and other area Republicans. “We’re going to get a little more exposure to him now.”

Some 1,500 miles and a week into his exploration of a run for the Republican nomination for Senate, Brown pulled into the sugar house driveway, crunching through the slush and snow in a green GMC Canyon pickup truck.

Now at 280,000 miles and counting, it carried him around Massachusetts during the 2010 special election to complete the Senate term of Edward M. Kennedy, and during the general election that he lost to Elizabeth Warren in 2012.

“Sorry we’re late,” Brown said while shaking hands with Thomson, the son of former GOP Gov. Meldrim Thomson and coordinator of the state’s Highway Safety Agency, and Thomson’s son Simon, who works for the Granite State’s junior senator, Republican Kelly Ayotte. “We tried to call, but there was no (cellphone) service.

“Between the snow and getting behind snowplows, it was a long ride.”

Saturday’s ride had started in Manchester and led through Bristol, Tilton and Rumney, and after Orford it would continue with stops in Piermont, Lebanon and Hanover.

After greeting diners and other customers — at least half of whom were surprised to learn he was coming — Brown told a small contingent of reporters that he’s so far receiving a warm reception around the state.

He recently relocated from Massachusetts to the Seacoast town of Rye, into his summer house, amid much anticipation among Republicans aiming to unseat Shaheen and proportional clucking from Democrats about his Massachusetts roots — some of it from Vermont’s senior Sen. Patrick Leahy in a party video.

“Is Senator Leahy from New Hampshire?” Brown said, to laughter among the gathering.

“Something like 60 percent of the people (in the state) now are not from New Hampshire. The people I’ve been talking to aren’t talking about where I’m from. They’re talking about Obamacare and how it’s crushing jobs. They’re concerned about, ‘How do we pay the bills?’ ”

Brown added that his recent exchange with Republican State Rep. Herb Richardson, who described President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as a “financial lifesaver” following an injury that put him out of work, didn’t sway him from his belief that the health care law is “a disaster for the average American.”

“People need a safety net,” Brown continued, “but we don’t need the federal government dictating for everyone how they get it. To impose one-size-fits-all benefits, I just can’t support it.”

Assuming, of course, that he seeks the nomination …

“Still trying to make a decision?” dairy farmer Lee Robie asked during Brown’s visit to Piermont.

“I’m pretty darn close,” Brown replied.

Orford residents Andy and Vicki Schwaegler wouldn’t mind if the pros prevail over the cons in Brown’s upcoming discussions with his wife and their two daughters about whether to run again, one state to the north.

“It’s exciting,” said Schwaegler, a tree farmer and member of the Orford Planning Board.

“He brings a lot of star power to the race. He’s a high-profile candidate. That’s what it’s going to take to beat Shaheen.”

Schwaegler cautioned that Brown has yet to commit to a campaign in which four other candidates, including Hanover businessman Jim Rubens, have formally declared for the Republican nomination.

“It’s early,” he said. “It’s New Hampshire. We’ve just come out to kick the tires.”

On a new set of tires that he’d bought for the pick up on Friday, Brown bounced over the frost heaves on Route 25A west into Orford, then up Route 10 to the Robie family’s dairy farm and farm store.

On the way to the cow barn, Brown asked Lee Robie how far Robie’s son Mark distributes the artisanal cheeses that he makes in the Upper Valley.

“You can get it at Fromaggio’s in Cambridge (Mass.),” the elder Robie said.

“I don’t hang around Cambridge too much,” Brown replied.

David Corriveau can be reached at dacorriveau@gmail.com and at 603-727-3304.