In an uncharacteristically low-key debate, Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren worked to tie her opponent, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, to Mitt Romney and national Republicans.
Early in the debate, Warren accused Brown of stealing from Mitt Romney’s “playbook” for last week’s debate when Brown said that the Affordable Care Act, which Warren supports and he does not, would take $7 billion from Medicare.
“It was wrong then, and it’s wrong tonight,” she said. She later repeated the line.
Tying Brown to the national Republican playbook is something that Warren has at times struggled to do in the race. Brown is a Republican, but he is a Republican whose views were liberal enough for the bright blue Massachusetts electorate to vote for him. He proudly touts the endorsements he has received from Bay State Democrats and talks about his bipartisanship and independence.
Other Democrats have tied their Republican opponents to Rep. Todd Akin, after the Missouri Senate hopeful made the remark that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant. But Brown, a pro-choice, social liberal, was the first national Republican to call for Akin to pull out of the race, so Warren’s brief attempts to tie him to Akin fell somewhat flat.
When the subject of social issues came up in Wednesday’s debate, Warren pointed to Brown’s voting record as a way to tie him to national Republicans, saying it wasn’t about what Brown himself believed, it was about how he voted, which she implied was with consistently with his party and for the Republican party agenda.
“What matters here is how Senator Brown votes,” she said. “So he’s gone to Washington and he’s had some good votes. But he’s had exactly one chance to vote for equal pay for equal work and he voted no. He had exactly one chance to vote for insurance coverage for birth control for women, and he voted no. He had exactly one chance to vote for a pro-choice woman from Massachusetts to the United Sates Supreme Court and he voted no. Those are bad votes for women.”
Warren also attacked Brown for supporting Grover Norquist’s pledge to not raise taxes.
The tactic that could serve Warren well: Romney is not even remotely competitive in Massachusetts, despite serving as the state’s Governor, and tying Brown to the top of the ticket could siphon off votes.
It was a debate devoid of some of the nastiness that has accompanied the past two face-offs between Warren and Brown. Notably absent was any mention of the controversy surrounding Warren’s Native American heritage.