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Sen. Brown gets celebrity welcome at Capitol

WASHINGTON - The Republican state senator who shook the political landscape from Massachusetts to California this week descended on Capitol Hill to a celebrity's welcome Thursday as he introduced himself to a Congress he says has lost its way.

Sen.-elect Scott Brown acknowledged that winning the seat held since 1962 by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in Tuesday's special election presented unique challenges.

"I'm stepping into shoes that are very, very big," Brown said during a meeting in Kennedy's former offices.

At another point, Brown, who was followed through the complex by a camera-clicking mob, said of the Senate:

"This is the best place in the world when it comes to solving problems, but we've sort of lost our way."

Brown, largely unknown outside Massachusetts until he began surging past Democrat Martha Coakley to capture the Senate seat, was first welcomed yesterday by Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008 known for his independent streak.

Brown, who campaigned emphasizing his independence from either party, recalled that McCain was one of the first people "to look me in the eye and say, 'Well, you're a long shot, but I'm with you.' "

Brown's victory shook the Democrats, breaking their 60-vote Senate majority and sparking expressions of concern from even the most well-funded Democratic incumbents up for re-election in November.

Nonetheless, Democrats greeted Brown politely Thursday.

Said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): "Scott very successfully managed to tap into anger and impatience that's very, very real. So it's a good lesson. I hope Republicans on the other side of the aisle hear it as well."

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