Brown, Warren Square Off In U.S. Senate Debate

Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren stand on the set before their first debate along with moderator Jon Keller Thursday. (AP)

Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren stand on the set before their first debate along with moderator Jon Keller Thursday. (AP)

BOSTON — A year’s worth of campaigning came to a head Thursday night in the highly anticipated first debate between Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

Brown came out swinging, immediately questioning Warren’s character by reviving his questions about her claims of Native American heritage.

“Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she’s not,” Brown said. “That being said, she checked the box, and she had an opportunity actually to make a decision throughout her career. When she applied to Penn and Harvard, she checked the box claiming she was a Native American, and clearly she’s not.”

On the campaign trail, this is an issue that voters still talk about whenever they express doubts about Warren, and that fact is not lost on Brown. Warren has tried to put this issue behind her, but Thursday night Brown forced her to revisit it.

“Senator Brown wants to raise an issue about my character, then I’ll lay it out there,” Warren said. “You know, when I was growing up, these were the stories I knew about my heritage. I believed my mother and my father and my aunts and my uncles and I never asked anybody for any documentation.”

Warren said from the outset of this debate that she would make it about Brown’s voting record. And she did not waver from that objective.

“Senator Brown voted to protect billions of dollars in subsidies for big oil companies,” Warren said. “They made $137 billion in profits last year.”

Brown came back by moving the debate from the abstract to the personal: he brought up his now-famous beat-up green pickup truck.

“With regard to oil companies, listen, I’m no friend to big oil,” Brown said. “I’m a friend to the motorist. I’m not sure if you’ve been to the pumps lately folks, but $4 a gallon. It took about $70 to fill up the truck the other day.”

If the polls are correct, come election day, many people in Massachusetts will cast their vote for President Obama and for Brown. Because Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one in Massachusetts, Brown needs to encourage people to split the ticket. And so he never once mentioned the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, but on several occasions, he indicated his agreement with Obama, including on how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“We can’t have a nuanced approach, and that’s the key,” Brown said. “Professor Warren has said when dealing with Iran, we should have a nuanced approach, and that’s something that Iran doesn’t understand. President Obama understood that in the beginning. He’s obviously drawn a harder line, and that’s a good thing.”

That opened the door for Warren to make a pitch to the president’s supporters.

“He’s taking nothing off the table,” Warren said. “That’s the way to go into negotiations. That’s the best way to work with our ally Israel, and make sure that we are protecting Israel, but I want to say this: I’m still working to have President Obama be the commander-in-chief, not Mitt Romney.”

These two candidates came into this debate on fairly even footing. The last poll showed Brown ahead. The previous four showed Warren leading. Throughout the debate, they demonstrated completely different styles. Warren was the calm attorney, unruffled, making her case to voters as to why they should vote Brown out, tying him to his party.

Brown made a more personal argument. He pointed to his independent voting record, questioned Warren’s character, and brought up his own life.

And they get to do it all over again three more times before the election.

This post was updated with the Morning Edition feature.

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  • CIA killed Lennon

    I know this will sound harsh,, but I find it hard to imagine anyone watching this without being creeped out by Scott Brown.  His sneering and snickering made me physically ill.  He wouldn’t respond to virtually any specific points about his voting record and acted like a a snide bully with all his stuff about Warren’s family.  Can anyone watch this guy and not get sick?  I mean really…

    • Donsmith

      I like warren but she is very narrow on her responses and goes to often to a short list of points when she should work on having a broader approach to responding differently when responding to question or making statements on the major issues.

      • Matt

        I thought the debate was fairly equal, with each person seeming more sensible at different times. As a person who generally votes as a Democrat, I hate that I am still unsure of how I will vote. I agree with Elizabeth Warren about the importance of the race in terms of Senate control and an agenda that I basically support if Obama is re-elected,  yet I am also sympathetic to Scott Brown regarding the need for more Susan Collinses in the mix. I actually think Warren would contribute to the frustrating paralysis of Congress, but that Brown is in too much of (unfortunately) a minority to really impact the Washington culture at the moment. I think that no matter what, we all need to start being open minded to the ideas of those with different reasons and philosophies for caring about the future of our country and world…and discuss.

        • http://twitter.com/shimown Simon J. Hernandez

          Matt, the paralysis in the Senate is caused by the GOP. They have stonewalled and filibustered everything for the past 2 years, and have made it virtually impossible for Obama to appoint even the most highly qualified and respected candidates to fill key positions. A vote for Scott Brown will continue this trend, making it a certainty that nothing will get done for the next few years.

          A vote for Warren, on the other hand, brings the country, not the party, closer to having the votes necessary to block the childish, counterproductive, and selfish obstructionism that is paralyzing our legislature.

          • Bees

            The paralysis in my arm is caused by horticulture.

          • Matt

            I like Bees response!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathy-Wnuk/100000450245663 Kathy Wnuk

            So you’re saying that to end partisanship, we need to vote in more democrats than republicans so that we can get our way? Still sounds like partisanship to me.

          • jen

            Kathy, that response was too easy. wasn’t it…lol.
            It is amazing to read the hypocrisy of the left and they don’t see it themseves before they write a comment.

          • Rene1948

             Yeah right Simon. Never mind that the first 2 years Senate
            and Congress was in Democrats hands. Better yet blame George
            Bush. That will salve your guilty conscience of protecting
            Dear Leader.

        • Mmhhft

          Only chickens roost twice daily

        • Rene1948

          Just vote straight Democrat already. Hold your nose and check the Ds
          all through out. It will ease your conscience.

      • Hdjuc

        I like you, but your hair is certainly not up to the task.

      • Rene1948

         So the broader question is why you still like Warren ? Is it because she looks like and Indian ? Is it because of her Occupy Wall Street connections ?

    • M40

      Who wouldn’t respond to points that were made???????

      Warren dodged, weaved and basically attempted to tap-dance around her own record of dishonest behavior.

       - She refused to release any records from her Cherokee scam and threw her parents under the bus when questioned on it and then declared that the case was closed. 

       - She wouldn’t comment on the fact that she testified (for big money) on
      behalf of insurance companies to keep asbestos victims from getting

       - She had no answer for the fact that she’s making MILLIONS in her cushy Harvard teaching role while whining about the ‘high cost of education’. 

       - She can’t deny that she’d be the among the most partisan senators, and thus 100% unable to accomplish any meaningful legislation. 

       - She can’t deny that Brown is a respected BIPARTISAN legislator who has accomplished more in his partial term as senator than many senators accomplish in a whole career.

       - She made several provably false accusations based on newspaper hit pieces.

       - She kept hitting Brown about voting against bogus bills that even most
      of the Democrats voted against (proving yet again that she’d be USELESS
      and accomplish NOTHING as a senator).

      The Boston Glob may like Warren, but she’s a real loser of a candidate. Is this Cambridge socialist the best the Democrats could come up with?

      • Rene1948

         You could fill the whole page with criticism of  Warren but Liberals will never listen to facts. Witness their devotion to Dear Leader. Obama is leading the country to hell but still they are blind to reason and they just do not care.

  • Cmdr_Casey_Ryback


    She played the race card, to shove aside male American Indian law grads from much-better law schools.

    How does someone from a third-tier law school (Rutgers) rise so rapidly?

    Fraud, cheating, and deception. Like this –


    Mass., you may vote her in, like Swimmer. And you will get a fight, every day, for Prof. LIE-awatha Fraud’s entire term.

    Shame on you, Prof. Lie-alot. You and OweBama are dumping trillions of debt on the grand-kids. Shame on you.

  • Tony

     There are three types of voters who support Brown: a) Those who are benefiting from the largesse of corporations b) Those who are afraid to see the truth and does not care about this nation, and c) Those that are a and b simultaneously.

    • Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathy-Wnuk/100000450245663 Kathy Wnuk

      And you are a perfect example of partisanship – the reason why congress is getting NOTHING done. “I won’t play with THAT boy, he’s a Republican.”
      Brown will actually cross party lines – think Warren ever will? She’s part of the problem. BTW I’m not a right wing nut job, I’m an independent and vote for the person. NOT the party.

      • Goody4Shoes

        Republicans are the ones who began the whole MESS of “make him fail” in Washington. Don’t pretend like it began as a two way street at this point. Democrats never took pride in that sort of thing. This current crop of republicans do. ANY bi-partisan good will Brown had, was blown away by his part in the Blunt Amendment. Seriously, how can anyone claiming they care about women’s rights have CO-SPONSERED that trash???

      • davefaler

        Independents and Libertarians are neither, ultimately they always support the  Republican party. 

    • Rene1948

       Hey guys, look who is talking.

  • Psychtwit

    The post debate political commentary on wbur this morning was amongst the most disappointing exchange I have ever heard on this radio station. Totally partisan without even some small attempt at balance. We can watch Fox News if that is the kind of journalism we are interested in.

    • Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

      Ridiculous. MessNBC’S Mad-cow (D) wouldn’t know reality if it bit her on the leg.

      This is real — taxpayer public debt $16,000,000,000,000.00. Yes, math is hard, and OweBama (D) is killing the USA.

      Your job — or OweBama (D). You have no one else to blame.

    • Bethbrady

      Have you ever watched MSNBC? Oh, your topic is journalism, so forget about my first sentence!

      • davefaler

        Fox news is definitely the higher rated “News” channel if you like partisan entertainment. By design FOX is a lower IQ hate broadcast, just look at their advertisers. MSNBC is a higher IQ commentary again compare advertisers. It’s all about selling to specific demographics. 
        For example when it comes to real life important issues like finances and your future people flock to CNBC. Fox’s business channel is an unmitigated disaster, They start the day with 3 hours of Imus, that’s brilliant just brilliant, the guy has the intellect of a turtle. Murdoch just had to inject partisan politics and what little audience they had fled to CNBC like a herd of water buffalo in lion country.

  • Franco

    a vote for Brown is a vote for more republican control of the Senate and that means Mitch McConnell.  Really?  and Obama caused the defecit?  Try Bush’s recession causing the major problems, and Brown goes out of his way to give them no regulations.

    This is real stark IF YOU LOOK AT THE FACTS!  Brown is bad for Massachusetts and so is Romney as President.  Get real Mass voters! 

  • Bgarryster

    Brown resembled Richard Nixon…sweaty and smarmy.

    • Rene1948

       No, Brown is better looking. In fact if you look closely at Richard Nixon you will notice
      his Indian heritage. Notice those cheekbones and nose ? If only I could remember that
      female professor politician in Boston who was once a chief in the Cherokee tribe.

    • davefaler

      I think they sprayed him down with body builder oil, it worked when he posed nude, why not for a debate.

  • Rene1948

    Massachusetts  deserved Warren. In fact they deserved its other. Let liberal massachusetts
    have liberal Warren.

  • Goody4Shoes

    I watched the whole thing and I was disgusted with Brown’s attempts to steer the conversation away from the issues and onto the muddy ground of things from the FAR past. He sounded like a version of ‘birthers’ demanding her hiring records from a job! He claims he thinks it speaks to character, but I have yet to hear him ask for Mitt Romney’s past tax returns, which would also speak to the character of Romney. (Namely his lack of it)
    I thought Warren did a great job keeping at him for the votes he’s ALREADY cast in the Senate, and for playing his part in obstructing the President in a time of dire need in this country.
    I also think Brown should never try Vegas style poker. He as a ‘tell’ when he lying and it’s easy to read. He did it often when trying to fend off Warren’s questions with regards to his voting record.
    I think she came out of this ahead. I hope the polls reflect that soon.
    We do not need to send this guy back to Washington. He cannot be trusted to buck his party line when it REALLY matters.

  • davefaler

     This guy was arrested a dozen times for stealing and posed nude in a adult magazine and he questions her past American Native claim, OK

    • Rene1948

       And Warren actually did pose for Playboy but was rejected by Hefner himself. Said
      its not good for circulation.

      • Michael Glik

        I would call you a liar also, unless you demonstrate data pointing that Ms. Warren pose for Playboy.  I think it is undignified to respond by a lie even if in kind.

    • Michael Glik

      is a lie.  Mr Brown did pose nude, but I did not find
      any evidence of him being arrested
      for stealing or posing nude.  You are a liar.

  • greenwheel

    Brown’s pandering to the military and women was offensive.  Especially repugnant was his claim that he has been ‘defending women’s rights since [he] was six’.  Correction: he defended a WOMAN at six, but has done little to improve rights and compensation for WOMEN as a demographic from the time to present.  

  • mpo

    Warren behaved like a senator – Brown behaved like a truck driver. Nothing against truck drivers – but he’s running for a senate seat.  Also, bullying Warren was poor advice from his handlers, mostly because she managed it so well.  He did not scare her (and BTW, she was not trying to “scare” women.). 

  • wf7

    A major issue is the control of the U.S. Senate… it makes no sense to elect Obama as president and turn around and elect an Republican senate that will severely block Obama’s agenda. 

  • Birddog

    Well what else do you have if you are Brown except  slander, inudendo and bluff when poll after poll demonstrates that the American people have lost confidence in YOUR party to represent their best interests…You certainly can’t run on your record.
    Run thin Lizzy Run!

  • Justhoping

    I don’t understand how Brown got away with his comments about “look at her…”  What, do you  have to look like to have Native American blood in your veins;  amber skin and a square jaw?  Why not just have said she wasn’t wearing feathers in her hair and carrying a tomahawk.

    His comment about Warren’s earnings?  What about his wife’s earnings.  Did she work for squat?  If not, how can he be a man of the people, living off of his wife’s means? 

    As far as defending Catholic’s right to choose, let the Catholic women decide for themselves…

    Brown lost my vote.

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