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Brown, Warren Wrangle Over Character, Partisanship

The two candidates faced off in Lowell for round two of their debates.

Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren brought their sharpened claws to the second debate last night.

Moderator David Gregory started the debate with a question about Warren's heritage. Warren claims to have Native American ancestry, but proof of that ancestry has not been presented. 

"From the day I was born until my other died, she told me about who I am, who we are, who my brothers are," Warren said. "I have never used the information about our Native American heritage to get any benefit ... I consider myself as having a Native American background. That's what I said, and that's who I am."

Brown has attacked Warren as dishonest for the heritage issue in his latest round of TV ads. Recently, Brown staffers showed up at a Warren rally yelling Native American war chants, which generated anger from the Cherokee Nation and which was condemned by Brown himself.

But at the debate, Brown said the issue was about Warren's integrity and that Warren had "failed the test" of her integrity by changing her story about who knew about her heritage classification and when.

When asked, Brown couldn't produce any evidence that Warren has received any benefit for Native American heritage, but he called on her to be more open and release her personnel record from Harvard.

Warren wasn't the only one on defense.

Gregory brought up the infamous incident in which Brown mentioned on a radio show that he'd had "meetings with kings and queens." He didn't name which kings and queens and his staff later said he misspoke, but it turns out Brown had made this claim on multiple occasions before.

Brown denied exaggerating and stood by his point, if not his actual statements. He said he was listening to leaders around the world discuss the economy and was presenting a "scenario" of discussion.

"I never met the poorest farmer either, but it's about presenting a scenario where we can point out that there are serious issues affecting our jobs and the economy."

Warren also pressed Brown to produce a list of his legal clients; that opened a whole different can of worms involving Warren, asbestos and coal.

Brown cornered Warren on her work with Travelers Insurance in 2009. Travelers Insurance enlisted Warren in an agreement with victims in order to protect itself from future claims. Brown says that work goes against Warren's claims of being an advocate against corporate abuse.

But Warren insists her work was to make sure the victims were given what they were owed and that she helped oversee a settlement of hundreds of billions of dollars to go to the victims.

"For Senator Brown to say that my work hurt asbestos victims is just simply not only untrue, it is exactly the wrong direction," Warren asserted. "The asbestos victims have stood up and said, 'Senator Brown is wrong and he has crossed the line.'"

Brown also brought up a 1995 case in which Warren, a bankruptcy attorney at the time, represented LTV Steel as they were coming out of bankruptcy and petitioning not to pay into a fund for workers' benefits.

In another familiar theme, Brown discussed his bipartisan record in the Senate.

"I don't work for anybody, I don't work for President Obama or Mitt Romney or Senator McConnell," Brown said. "I work for the people of Massachusetts."

Brown spoke of various votes he cast in favor of Democratic bills in the Senate. 

When asked about her record of bipartisanship, Warren cited a bipartisan commission she was on after the financial collapse of 2008 to address issues that had caused the collapse. She also said she would work with Republicans on reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Boston Herald has the complete video of the debate.

FindBalance October 02, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Dennis - all the technological advances you named are the product of the private sector and American ingenuity, and they succeeded because they were affordable and attractive to the many people who bought them; they were not forced on us - and at a much higher price - as the govt's preferred sources of energy are. Now take your ball and go home.
Jim Hatherley October 03, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I suggest that everyone step back a bit and look at the forest and not just these two candidates. What i hear everyone saying is that the Congress is broken. It is far too partisan. The sides are so hunkered down that nothing gets done - and then they all try to rationalize why things aren't working and convince you that you would understand if you were only bright enough. If we really do want bipartisanship, then we need to understand what these candidates will contribute to the process going forward. We have seen Brown in action. He is not well liked by Conservatives because he is not a relaible vote. He is obviously not liked by the Liberals who want all his votes to support their causes. This sounds like a Senator who is actually bi-partisan. Ms. Warren's comments make it pretty clear (to me at least), that she will be a very partisan Senator - essentially adding to the noise and the stagnation. I don't think America needs this, and I don't believe that MA needs this. I get that everybody wants their candidate, and for different reasons as discussed above. But at some point we must get over our individual wants, and even hypocrisies, and realize that government runs on consensus. We need practical solutions, not ideological entrenchment. Brown has that edge right now in my view.
Jim O'Connor October 03, 2012 at 02:06 PM
No candidate who was truly "independent" or "bi-partisan" as Brown claims to be would state that his model Supreme Court Justice was Scalia. If he truly is independent he should run as such not as a Republican. The consequences of a Brown re-election are that the Republicans could win a majority in the Senate meaning that decidedly extremist positions, e.g., replacing Medicare with a voucher system, would be further elevated and we would be closer to a supermajority of extremist Justices (like Scalia) in the Supreme Court. Voter beware.
Jim Hatherley October 03, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Jim, forgive me, but this is a saw that cuts both ways, isn't it? Why try to pin this on Brown when it probably applies even more to "the consequences of a [Warren] election. For every Liberal who shudders over the fear of a Justice Scalia there is a Conservative who cringes over Justices Kagan, Sotomayor and Ginsburg. Fair to say? (Especially once you get away from the Northeast). I actually thought the question was a good one. While I confess that I was not especially impressed by Brown's weaving from Scalia to Kennedy to Roberts to Sotomayor (perhaps in reaction to the boos he was hearing from the Warren partisans to his Scalia reference), but I can assure you that the thought of another Kagan, and the affirmative action supporting Sotomayor are equally troubling - and unsatisfying to me personally. So, I agree with you ... voter beware. The "extremists", as you suggest, exist on both sides. Just depends on your perspective and hot button issue. Thanks for your note.
Neil October 07, 2012 at 11:32 AM
I'm much more concerned about the Republican party platform than bi-partisanship. This is not my father's Republican party. It has been captured by a small group economic and religious extremists. A Republican majority in the Senate would open the door to putting far right bills on Barack Obama's or Mitt Romney desk for signature. (Mass. voters support Obama over Romney 2:1) Trickle down hasn't worked for 30 years and yet that's where Romney wants to go. He wants to repeal Wall St reform. Austerity is killing European economic recovery, and yet that's where Romney wants to go. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, pass laws that put big gov't between a woman's free will and her doctor. Republicans want to repeal labor rights, and add to the tax burden of the middle class in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The Republican agenda for America is far more troublesome to me than any alleged benefit of Scott Brown's bipartisanship. What the difference between a Todd Akin or Scott Brown win? A: Nothing. I'm voting for Elizabeth Warren and President Obama.

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