The applause for incumbent U.S. Republican Senator Scott Brown was respectfully loud at the end of his closing statement in last night’s third debate for the right to represent Massachusetts. The applause for Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, however, was thunderous.
Warren went into the debate with what appeared to be a large backing supporting her in a full house at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass., and helped her cause with an offensive attack that kept Brown on his toes and deflected any discussion of her ancestry for the first time at a debate.
“This isn’t about parties, this is about going to Washington and who you’re going to stand up for,” Warren said to media after the debate. “Senator Brown has made it clear. He stands up for the millionaires, the billionaires and big oil. Me? I don’t want to go to Washington to work for those guys. I want to go to Washington to be there for working families and small businesses.”
After initially appearing on his heels from the Warren offensive, however, Brown maintained his cool demeanor, leaving the race for the Senate up for grabs heading into their final debate, which will take place Oct. 30 in Boston.
“I don’t think I need to attack, I just draw the distinctions between who we are, whose side are we on. We’re learning that she’s not who she says she is,” Brown said. “She’s really working on behalf of the millionaires and billionaires who own those corporations that she got hundreds of thousands of dollars from. I’ve been out there trying to protect people’s pocketbooks and wallets. She can come up with all the sound bites, and all the routines, but it’s not in the terms of reality.”
Brown and Warren received a warm welcome to Springfield, as supporters for either side lined Court Street, culminating in the masses stationed directly across the street from Symphony Hall. The atmosphere was lively, with bagpipes playing and people leading chants through megaphones, not to mention the cluster of signs fighting for attention.
Even outside of the hall, it was clear that Warren’s supporters outnumbered Brown’s. This was further demonstrated multiple times in a rowdy debate, as it took Warren’s supporters just under 10 minutes before they clapped and cheered their candidate on. The cheering and subsequent booing was a constant theme throughout the debate, as both sides ignored the pleas of moderator Jim Madigan to remain silent until the end.
The debate opened without even a mention of Warren’s highly-contested Native American ancestry, which was a welcome relief to many. Instead, Warren used her first statement to target Brown for his opposition to job bills proposed by President Barack Obama. Brown responded by saying that federal government has no right to dictate how Massachusetts should run its health care system.
From there the candidates were off and running, debating topics including student loan debt, the mortgage tax deduction, women’s rights and foreign policy.
Warren’s main points that she wanted to get across included Brown’s hypocrisy at saying he supported women’s rights, while his previous actions in office did not back up that statement.
“Senator Brown has had one chance to vote for equal pay for equal work – he voted no. He had one chance to vote for insurance coverage for birth control – he voted no. He had one chance to vote for a pro-choice woman [Elena Kagan] to the United States Supreme Court – he voted no. That affects all of our daughters.”
Brown countered on the topic by saying that he has been supporting women since he was a young child witnessing the effects of an abusive father.
“I have a house full of women. I’ve been fighting for women’s rights and women’s issues since I was a young boy battling for my mom,” Brown said.
Warren’s other goal that she tried to hammer home was to portray Brown as a supporter of the wealthy and not the common man. She worked hard throughout the debate to show her loyalty to the average Massachusetts residents while providing examples of Brown being the exact opposite.
“All I know is that Senator Brown has taken the Grover Norquist pledge, which says that no matter what happens during the budget negotiations, he’s not voting for one dollar more in taxes from millionaires, from billionaires or from big-oil companies. That’s not in the interest of working families and small businesses in Massachusetts,” Warren said.
Brown’s goals, on the other hand, were a little less concrete. He continued his drive to point out how Warren is a hypocrite, because she says that she supports the working class and yet has worked as an attorney for corporate clients who are the millionaires and billionaires that she claims Brown supports. He also pointed out that he is a bi-partisan voter, something that has resonated with Massachusetts’ voters in the past.
“Right now we need to work together in a truly bi-partisan manner. I’ve been doing it. As you know, I vote 54 percent for my party,” Brown said during the debate.
His other main point revolved around the question, “Whose side are you on?” as he in essence called out Warren’s trustworthiness of character.
Warren played off of Brown’s question, throwing it right back in his face and questioning his claims all throughout the debate.
As election day on Nov. 6 looms closer and closer, the question that Brown and Warren posed for each other is the one on many people’s minds. The candidate who can convince the majority of voters that he or she supports their needs is the one that will most likely emerge victorious. After an evening of discussing issues in Springfield, however, neither candidate has created a substantial amount of separation from their competition, so the debate will rage on.